Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary



Randas Batista is a hero in Brazil. I met this internationally renowned heart surgeon one morning in Seattle, as I took pictures of him performing the surgery that made him famous. He developed a procedure in which he cuts a big chunk of heart tissue out of an enlarged, diseased heart, then sews it back together, smaller and stronger.

We had dinner later, after the operation was finished, and that same evening he invited me to Brazil. I spent the next several months teaching myself Portuguese and preparing for my adventure to the Brazilian jungle to live with Dr. Batista.

In October of 1999 I flew in an American Airlines jet to Curitiba, Brazil, to work by Dr. Batista's side and learn what life is like for Brazil's most famous heart surgeon. He met me at the airport in his cowboy boots and gave me a small package of peanuts. Then he drove me to his ranch, where we went riding horses. I took the photo on the left during my first day in Brazil.


Dr. Batista decided to teach me the skills that I'd need to survive in Brazil.

"You did not come here to be a tourist," he reminded me one day. "If you want to know what it takes to live in Brazil, I will show you." He was rough with me and put me to tests. And at times he shared his ideas about life and the human heart.

These diary entries tell the story of Dr. Randas Batista and Brazil as I experienced them from day to day.