Dr James TS LEE
MBBS MCARF (China) Dip Med AC (UK)

Medical Specialities: General Practice, specialising in Acupuncture
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Article By
Dr James TS LEE

Dr Wu Lien-Teh is James Lee's great-uncle.


I admire Dr Wu for what he did in China more than 100 years ago. It is no wonder that in China, especially Beijing and Harbin, they still worship him. He was a natural-born genius. If he had been Caucasian, he would be standing tall next to Fleming, Jenner and Pasteur in the history books.

At 84 years old, I am one of the earlier generations of physicians related to Dr Wu Lien-Teh. My paternal grandmother was his youngest sister whom he loved. It is possible that he also loved her because he enjoyed her Nyonya curry. In return, my grandmother worshipped him, and used to remind me in Cantonese that 'In the heavens, the most important element is lightning; on earth, the most important element is great-uncle'. The great-uncle she was referring to was my great-uncle, Dr Wu.

Dr Wu treated me for malaria with quinine, the only drug in those times, when I was 15. On a separate occasion, he lanced a boil in my foot; I passed out, no anaesthetics.

I saw the great man regularly until 1954 when I left Malaysia for the UK to further my studies.

In my youth, all Chinese families prayed that one of their offspring would embrace one of three revered professions – medicine, law or engineering. I choose medicine. However, it was not because of Dr Wu. I never knew what he did in China until I read his autobiography 'Plague Fighter' in late 1960s, a copy that he had given my father. It was my father who influenced me to do medicine - he had wanted to do so but a lack of funds prevented it.

Whilst undertaking Obstetrics and Gynaecology specialty training after my initial MD in the UK, I went to Malaysia to see my parents after having been away for 10 years. In Malaysia, I was drafted into the Malaysian National Service, so returning to the UK to complete specialisation training was not meant to be. Subsequently, I went into general practice and developed an interest in traditional Chinese medicine. I studied acupuncture under Professor C. Chung of the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, Taiwan. In those years, as a Malaysian, I was not allowed to enter China.

I have practised acupuncture for 38 years now. Up until the present pandemic lockdown, I had been working 5.5 days a week.

In the UK, there is much confusion about Covid-19. Too many people are telling everyone what to do. There is too much politics, racism and other distractions. Dr Wu's Western medicine public health principles remain important today. I am grateful to be able to educate my faithful patients about these, which they heed.


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