In Niger and worldwide, legendary surgeon and humanitarian Jean-Marie Servant is mourned

Niger remembers the professor who fixed children
Reconstructive surgery is an important part of public health in Niger, where children often fall victim to complications caused by poor sanitary conditions and unsafe surroundings, sometimes requiring quite drastic   plastic surgery. Jean Marie had a very nurturing personality, which made him a personable and caring man. Bachir Athmani   also shared his   thoughts and feelings   on the late Servant:
“Jean Marie You were a good man;• An honorable and fair man, but not inflexible. Since there are always two of us on site, we can treat roughly fifty.”
Servant took on a number of students as part of his work, one of whom was Nigerien surgeon Issa Hamady, who learned how to treat Noma gangrene effectively   by working at Servant’s side. Born in 1947, Servant became the head of reconstructive plastic surgery at Saint Louis hospital in Paris in November 1995, where he worked for 15 years. Adel Laoufi worked with Servant as clinic director during Servant’s time at Saint Louis hospital. Professor Jean-Marie Servant,   a specialist in   reconstructive plastic surgery, lost a long   fight against leukemia last month. This   is Laoufi’s written homage to the late professor:
“2016 has taken many stars from us. It’s difficult to describe in so few lines all those hours we spent together in the operating room. Coming to visit us after her accident a week later, even though you could hardly walk or speak.”
“There was also Bistrot Mazarine’s coq au vin, after you’d just found out that you had leukaemia. All those cigarettes and coffees your drank, against all advice. Sentinelles, an NGO dedicated to providing aid to the wounded   in Third-World countries, explains this phenomenon:
“The number of children who are seriously burned is unfortunately high. Dr. I will always remember the image of the supposedly “inoperable” 80-year-old patient, on whom we operated together for countless hours between Christmas and the New Year to remove a complex facial tumor, and subsequently to reconstruct the patient’s entire eyelid. The long reconstructive surgery missions in Niger after you’d undergone a coronary bypass. His   humanitarian work didn’t   stop there. We work at Niamey National Hospital between two and four times per year. You knew how to bend but not break;• You loved people;• and you will always be remembered by your loving students.”
In an open letter, Malagasy doctor M. In an interview with the magazine   Pharmaceutiques,   a French language pharmaceuticals magazine, Servant   explained his work   in detail:
“We essentially try to operate on children suffering from facial malformations (Noma gangrene, in particular) and congenital conditions, such as cleft palate. A well trained surgeon can treat roughly 30 patients. More importantly, you always knew that it was important to accept the consequences of your actions. The patients are usually diagnosed and categorised on location, normally by the surgeons at Niamey. “Do what you want.” These were the words you said to me, but there was no hint of anger in your voice. Goodbye, Jean-Marie”
Writing on Facebook in   fewer, but no less poignant, words,   Borhane Belkhiria   summarized the memory that will   remain   with Jean-Marie Servant’s family and loved ones: “Geniuses are comets, destined to burn in order to make our generation a little brighter.” However, for me Dec. I told you to stop and you replied with a little smile, which told of how little consideration you had for your own well being.”
“When we first met in Niger in 1991, you’d already been working there for six years. We generally receive photos of the patients in France one week before we are scheduled to start work in Africa. Free to take such an inconsiderate risk, free of life, free of death. Our aim is to reconstruct the affected area and to reintroduce the mouth’s major functions. Doctors of the World works in Niger, Madagascar, and Vietnam. The   use of firewood   for cooking fuel in homes in Niger causes numerous accidents, usually to children. It is thanks to funding from the organization that all of this humanitarian work is possible. A celebration of his life and commemoration of his work   was held recently in Père-Lachaise’s dome hall crematorium. Servant was regarded worldwide as an expert in his field, however his humanitarian work in Africa in collaboration with Doctors of the World was just as important, if less well known. We also train the local surgeons, so that they are able to treat patients in these cases independently. But I’m going to do so anyway because, throughout our 20 years of friendship, I haven’t always done what you told me to.”
“Just like the day when, right after you’d removed my malign tumor, you watched me travel across the Atlantic to attend my students’ graduation ceremony. While roughly 80 percent of our cases, we do also treat burn patients and patients with tumors. In fact, you actually respected my choice.”
“This was the driving force of your life: not to judge others, forgetting your own wants and needs, and the passion of others. And by either accident or a miracle, you gave us 20 years of beautiful friendship, fixed our broken bodies with your hands of a master craftsman, and brought your immense heart into our pitiable and heroic lives.”
“Gifted, selfless, free. Children are often left near the fire unattended, meaning the slightest incident, a slight gust of wind for instance, can lead to the child’s clothes catching on fire.”
Servant came to Niger’s Niamey National Hospital not only to provide   care to   children suffering from serious burns, but also to train medical students in reconstructive surgery techniques. Servant participated in “Operation Smile,”   the focus of which is to treat and repair the faces of children suffering from Noma, a form of gangrene that   mainly affects malnourished children. I was lucky enough to be able to see him again a few months ago with my friends and colleagues Gregory Staub and Christelle Santini in a café, where he told us of his passion for African art.”
Dr. 29 marks the saddest of these losses. Hamady recently reflected   on what the late professor and his work   means to him:
“A great mentor, a loving and attentive father figure, and a man with an enormous heart has left us.Enough could never be said about this great man’s achievements, prowess, and passion for his work.Neither his hundreds of Noma patients, whose lives have changed dramatically thanks to him, nor those he taught the essence and complexities of reconstructive surgery, will ever forget him.May his soul Rest in Peace.”
A Wonderful Homage From His Peers and Friends
Colleagues and close friends around the world remembered Servant as   an exceptional surgeon and a brilliant man with integrity, whose generosity and kindness were unparalleled. Family “kitchens” generally consist of a stack of firewood with a pot on top that is used to prepare and serve family meals. You also had to respect his surgical genius immensely. Attending my daughter’s baptism, supported only by a cane and facing an uncertain recovery, amidst the row and euphoria of our family gathering. Farewell, my friend. Rakotomalala offered   a final farewell to his old friend:
“I know you wouldn’t have wanted me to write this letter: to speak of you, to pay you homage, to say that I am inconsolably sad after the announcement of your death that you predicted countless times. You were a giant among men. The hours and hours of complex and meticulous work were what allowed the patient to spend a few more years with their children and grandchildren. The idea was crazy, but I was free.