Dr. Ken Stones and his volunteers with the Semiahmoo Dental Outreach were inspirational in the writing of this novel. In Section II, Frankie Mendelssohn makes a life-changing choice when he recognizes that his destiny has always been to assist disadvantaged children like so many in the orphanages of Gaza and the Occupied West Bank. The following is taken from a feature article recently published in the University of Manitoba, College of Dentistry Bulletin. http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/health_sciences/dentistry/media/Bulletin_Winter2017-Web.pdf


In 1994, a University of Manitoba-trained dentist found himself travelling down a remote tributary in the Amazon River basin. As the lone dentist with a volunteer group, Ken Stones [DMD/69], then in his 40s, had been asked to give two Brazilians a crash course in extractions. “There were no roads,” recalls Stones, now 70 and retired in British Columbia. “I lived with them on their boats and we visited villages. I gave them dental lessons for three weeks. “I got so much more out of it than I put in. It was the most incredible holiday I’d ever had. It really was life-changing. It gave me a focus of wanting to do more of that kind of work.” Stones, who was born in Montreal and moved to Winnipeg as a teenager, had long felt a drive to explore the world. “Ken was always an adventuresome type,” recalls his U of M classmate Dan Green [DMD/69]. When most members of the Class of 1969 were establishing practices in Western Canada, Stones went to live and teach in New Zealand. He eventually settled into practice in White Rock, B.C. After that first Brazilian adventure, he took every opportunity to participate in humanitarian dentistry. He donated his services to alleviate suffering in countries such as Guatemala, China, Fiji and Morocco. His parents, he says, had done charitable work and instilled in him the value of volunteering. In 2009, Stones founded a charity, Semiahmoo Dental Outreach (christened after the First Nations name for the peninsula where White Rock is located). He started to plan trips and partner with overseas organizations. Retired since 2014, he now leads two foreign clinics per year, each requiring a volunteer team of at least 20 dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and non-dental helpers. Semiahmoo Dental Outreach focuses on treating children who lack access to basic oral care. Teams have travelled to the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Peru, typically treating 400 to 700 children per trip. Team members pay for their own airfare, accommodation and food. Some use two weeks of their holidays from work to take part. Many describe it as one of the most humbling and fulfilling experiences of their lives. “The camaraderie of the team and the communion with the community are very special,” says Stones, who has reached a personal total of about 25 trips in 23 years. The working conditions are often challenging, but the satisfaction is enormous. “These little kids get out of the chair and hug you and thank you,” he says. “Seeing that joy and knowing that you’re helping people is an incredible reward. It’s pretty magical.” In the developing world, Stones says, the availability of cheap, sugar-laden food, drinks and candy has caused a staggering increase in painful decay and infection, often within one generation. People die from dental infections at a rate that would shock most Canadians. “It’s heartbreaking,” Stones says. “Prevention is far more important, long-term, than what we can achieve by treatment.” Semiahmoo Dental Outreach has made some headway. In the Philippines, Stones and his teams have held an annual clinic on the island of Siquijor, with a population of about 100,000, for the past seven years. When the team first arrived, the island’s schools had canteens stocked only with high-sugar snacks. “It was not uncommon for 20 per cent of kids to be absent in any one month from toothache,” Stones says. Then one school principal, inspired by preventative presentations by the outreach team, declared her school a “candy-free zone” and brought in healthy snacks. The number of decay free students rose from virtually zero to more than 60 per cent in just three years. Now all the schools on the island have banished junk food and candy. Stones is currently working as a consultant on a planned program in Tanzania. It will train community health workers to deliver preventive oral health education at a grassroots level. Although he says he’ll eventually leave the hands-on dentistry to others on his overseas trips, he has no plans to stay home. “I’m still dreaming big,” he says. “I’m excited about the prevention thing.”

Ken Stones’ outreach work has inspired creativity – and generosity – in a fellow member of the Class of 1969. Dan Green [DMD/69] had a long career as a dentist in West Vancouver, while Stones practised in White Rock, B.C. The former classmates kept loosely in touch. Eight years ago, when Stones organized his charity’s first outreach trip to Vietnam, Green and his wife, Maureen, volunteered as members of the team. In Vietnam, Green was particularly struck by how stoically the children endured dental work. “The courage they showed was very impressive,” he remembers. The experience was a profound one for the Saskatchewan-bred Green, who had retired in 2003, studied creative writing and pursued a passion for crafting fiction. Now Green has independently published his second novel, a fast-paced historical thriller called Teeth, Lies & Consequences in which the main character and his son are dentists. The novel is set during and after the Second World War, in locales ranging from Germany to Palestine to California. Green based scenes of humanitarian dentistry at a Middle Eastern orphanage on his Vietnam experience. “Everything I wrote about the orphanage was inspired by the school clinic I worked at in Vietnam,” says Green, 72. “The setting is in Gaza, but the innocence of children in war-torn countries is the same.” The author describes Teeth, Lies & Consequences as “the story of a dentist who makes a vow never to reveal a secret, but goes back on his word to save the life of his son.” Green dedicated the book to the U of M Dental Class of 1969, and to “all the dedicated and caring dentists, hygienists, assistants and reception coordinators” he has known throughout his career. Members of the Class of 1969, he says, will recognize character names as nods to real people. The thriller is available from Amazon Indigo and other online booksellers, in paperback or as an e-book. Green is donating 25 per cent of every sale to Stones’ Semiahmoo Dental Outreach. “I’d like to raise as much money as I can for Ken’s foundation,” Green says. One of the novel’s themes is the importance of integrity and empathy in dentistry. “Those values go back to the education we received at the U of M,” the author says. “Our instructors instilled in us that dentistry is about helping others, and that every patient, no matter what their background or circumstance, deserves compassion and care.” What does Stones think of Green’s support for his humanitarian efforts? “I’m thrilled,” Stones says. “He’s quite a wonderful guy.”