Dr. David J. Apple isn't a name you can expect to see in any bookstore's fiction section. But if you're interested in medical nonfiction, he's your guy. During a difficult battle with throat cancer, Apple dedicated his time and energy to writing "Sir Harold Ridley and His Fight for Sight."
Preview was privileged to be able to interview Apple and share his inspiring story with our readers.
Q: Explain the background of "Sir Harold Ridley and His Fight for Sight."
A: Harold Ridley was a British eye surgeon during the Battle of Britain in 1941. He examined pilots who suffered from wounds that occurred when fragments of plastic on their cockpits became embedded in their eyes. He noted that such wounds could be relatively inert and often did not destroy the eye. He realized it was possible to use such plastic to create prosthetics that could treat various eye diseases. This was especially useful in creating intraocular lenses that are inserted into the eye after the patient's own lens is removed during cataract surgery…
This was one of the most important discoveries in the field of ophthalmology in the 20th century, indeed of all time. His work was not immediately accepted by colleagues because of jealousy. I had written research articles on the intraocular lens, and my findings were that they were useful. Ridley read these articles, was happy to see my results, and summoned me to visit and discuss all aspects of these intraocular lenses with him. We immediately became good friends and collaborated on further development of the intraocular lens from that time (circa 1985) until his death in 2006. Simultaneously, I made it clear to the professional world through my writing how great his work was, and he became accepted by all.
I wrote the book because it was a story that needed to be told, and Harold Ridley would have been a forgotten man had I not done so.
Q: What kind of health difficulties did you experience while working on the book?
A: In 1999, physicians diagnosed a throat cancer in me that had already spread and was thought to have a guarded prognosis. I survived, but the post-operative course was very difficult. I had a stroke, nineteen separate pneumonias, four episodes where I passed out and almost died in the ER, and I also suffered from a chronic nonremitting pain and other problems. In spite of that, I made up my mind to continue the work that I deemed important, including my research and the writing of the book on Harold Ridley.
Q: What advice would you offer amateur writers in the area?
A: I have special advice for any writer that may have a physical disability or have suffered an injury. I hope that my experience is such that it gives them promise that they can forge ahead and do a book such as this, even when not in the best of health.
"Sir Harold Ridley's Fight for Sight" can be purchased through Amazon.com and at www.haroldridley.com.