Brilliant, distinguished and selfless…
Renowned Urologist, Dr. Dwayne Thwaites, is our ‘Person Of The Year’
Our person of the year is an illustrious and accomplished individual, who has saved and prolonged the lives of many in St. Kitts, Nevis, Tortola, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands (BVI), and more than likely every other territory that he has set foot in. His itinerant practice has in essence afforded him legendary status, particularly in the Eastern Caribbean, where he is now permanently based and operates.
For good measure, on the 38th anniversary of Antigua’s Independence in 2019, he was awarded the Order of Merit (OM) for a distinguished career in medicine and community service. Five years earlier, he received The Pine Apple Award for contribution to health care.
To say that he is invaluable would be an understatement. He is brilliant. He is unassuming. He is one of the special gifts that the Almighty blessed this Earth with, and we in the Federation can attest to being among the fortunate to have had him grace us with his presence, but more importantly, impart his knowledge and selflessly use his expertise to heal the infirm, and help those whom only experts can.
And yes, there was that time at the race track when a man cut his brother-in-law’s throat, and this medical genius went into action immediately – placing the victim in the front seat of a car, and applying the required pressure on the victim’s neck from the back seat, as the vehicle raced to Alexandra Hospital…passing the ambulance on the way! Upon reaching the hospital, he performed emergency surgery on the victim – fixing his carotid artery – and saved the man’s life.
The aforementioned is why the choice we have made to honour this person has been one of our easiest to date.
A MAN ON A MISSION
The practice of medicine is informed by one of the promises within the Hippocratic Oath: First, Do No Harm! And the person who we duly recognize, a renowned Urologic Surgeon (urologist), is guided by this sacrosanct principle. He is a man on a mission with a transformational approach in the delivery of health care. He has shown a strong commitment to the critical issues of quality and access in the provision of health care. His primary professional goal and objective has always been “to be the best urologist”.
Dr. Dwayne Thwaites, MD, FACS, OM, was born and raised in the community of Otto’s located in Antigua and Barbuda. He attended St. Martin’s Primary School as a young lad, where he was under the leadership and guidance of the principal, Ms. Martin of Bethesda Village – the same person that taught his father, and also the Honourable V.C. Bird, Antigua’s first Prime Minister.
He furthered his studies at Otto’s Comprehensive School, but then completed his high school education at St. Joseph’s Academy Secondary School.
He continued his studies abroad by attending Saint Leo University of Florida, from 1981-1985, where he succeeded in academics – (Bachelor of Arts in Premedical Science (Biology) – and also performed exceptionally well at sports as a soccer player.
During that period, he somehow found the time to return to St John’s, Antigua, where he selflessly assisted as a Counselor for 8-15-year-old students at the YMCA (1982), and worked as a Customer Service Representative at the Bank of Nova Scotia two years later.
In 1985, the final year of his degree pursuit, he also did some construction while in the United States, with a company based in East Orange, New Jersey.
Continuing on this scholastic journey to excel, the young Thwaites fittingly received another scholarship (Dr. Herbert F. Wolf Academic Scholarship) that later helped him to complete his studies.
Although he was seemingly preoccupied mentally, he still had that passion to be physically active and he continued to play soccer until he graduated, where he was also called to Delta Nu National Honor Society.
Additionally, he was recognized in Who’s Who among Students in American Universities and Colleges, and during his undergraduate education, was on the Dean’s List every semester (all seven) until graduation.
He did a Post Baccalaureate in Biology at the University of South Florida in late 1987, and then on an academic scholarship, attended Medical School at the University of Miami (1988-1992) where attained his Doctorate in Medicine (MD). He went on to a General Surgery Residency at State University of New York in Brooklyn, from 1992-1997.
PERFORMING MANY FIRSTS
He worked as a General Surgeon, attending at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Staten Island before taking up a position as Chief General Surgeon in Nevis, where he performed the first successful Laparoscopic surgery in the Eastern Caribbean, as well as the first radiation treatment for cancer in the federation and the Eastern Caribbean. He also screens over a thousand men yearly in the federation.
Dr. Thwaites returned to the USA to specialize in Urology at Emory University (2002-2003) and also the University of Miami, where he was a Resident at the Miller School of Medicine, Department of Urology (2003-2007) – Chief Resident from 2006-2007.
He subsequently set up practice in North Carolina for five years and continued to work in the Caribbean, doing Prostate Screening yearly for both his home country of Antigua and Barbuda as well as St. Kitts and Nevis. He then proceeded to do the first green light Prostatectomy in the Eastern Caribbean, and also performed the first Artificial Urinary Sphincter and the first Penile Prosthesis in the Eastern Caribbean. He has also performed kidney transplants, and of course was the first in the Eastern Caribbean.
In 2013, he made history in the BVI by successfully conducting the island’s first double surgery to correct severe erectile dysfunction and a urinary problem.
During his extensive training over the years, Dr. Thwaites distinguished himself by winning many academic awards and honours. He has done important research and published several articles related to the field of urology, among them, a chapter on Transurethral Resection of the Prostate in the textbook:
Transurethral Resection of the Prostate: Medical Management of Surgical Patients: 4th Edition (132):787-790. Cambridge University Press, 2006.
He has also contributed to Journal Articles including: ‘Differential Selectivity of Hyaluronidase Inhibitors Towards Acidic and Basic Hyaluronidases. Glycobiology.’ 2006 Jan; 16(1):11-21.
‘Asymptomatic Follicular Lymphoma of the Prostate Discovered by Abnormal Digital Rectal Examination.’ J Urol. 2004 Feb; 171(2 pt1):795-6
‘ICV Infusion of Corticosterone Antagonized ICV-Aldosterone Hypertension
American Journal of Physiology.’ 258 (Endocrinol. Metab. 21) – E649-E653, 1990.
‘Central Mineral Corticoid 9 Receptor Antagonism Blocks Hypertension in Dahl S/JR Rats.’ American Journal of Physiology; Endocrinology of Metabolism
Dr. Thwaites has been a member of the American Medical Association (AMA) since 1998, and the American Urological Association (AUA) (Urology Resident) since 2001. He certifications include: Diplomate of the American Board of Urology; Fellow of The American College of Surgeons and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and First Aid Advance Trauma Life Support (ATLS).
WARM AND ENGAGING PERSONALITY
In an effort to translate his concern about men’s health into action, he pioneered the annual prostate screening in Nevis in December 2007. He partnered with the Four Seasons Resort Estates, so that the service could be delivered free of cost to the men. This has had a revolutionary impact on men’s health as the screening numbers reached a record 675 in 2019, while in January of this year, it was an impressive 614.
The warm and engaging personality of Dr. Thwaites has helped to allay the fears of many men who hitherto have avoided such medical examinations. The long lines at the annual screening testify to the high level of interest among the male population.
Dr. Thwaites makes himself available throughout the year to follow up on critical cases. The success of this imaginative programme over the last fourteen years reflects his outstanding leadership qualities, marked by teamwork and the ability to motivate his support staff of nurses, doctors and medical technicians.
We have to consider the financial impact of the Prostate Screening Programme. It has reduced hospitalisations, facilitated early treatment, and reduced time lost from work due to illness.
This annual screening has saved numerous lives and averted major illness, and thereby saved money and productive time. Poor health correlates with poverty. When a man is healthy, he can hold a job, earn money, feed his children and support his family.
The screening programme is best described by PAHO in a 2015 report where it notes: “Non communicable diseases represent a huge cost to the society and contribute to social and economic inequities. The cost reflects a large and growing burden to individuals and families. Without adequate prevention and early detection, the cost will rise as they require expensive treatments, surgeries and medications.”
This underscores the exemplary work of Dr. Thwaites.
It is apt to reiterate that the Annual Screening Programme has led to behaviour change among the men of Nevis. They have moved from being unaware to being knowledgeable, and motivated to change.
Dr. Thwaites came to Nevis in the 1990s when the island was facing major challenges to secure the services of a surgeon. Many in the federation remember him treating a young man with a major hand injury. The man had no money to pay for the surgery and was very worried, but Dr. Thwaites said to him: ‘You owe me nothing! Go home and take care of yourself and family’.
His commitment to providing quality health care in Nevis was further demonstrated when he worked with the Ministry of Health to establish a Cystoscopy Suite at the Alexandra Hospital to treat diseases of the Urinary Tract. The suite is equipped with a Green Light Laser to vaporise the prostate and prevent bleeding, an EHL Machine to break up kidney stones and a Stones Basket to remove kidney stones.
With a Nevis-born mother, Dr. Thwaites is very comfortable in the Federation. He has been able to help us de-mystify doctors by engaging in a range of social and community activities. He enjoys a good party. He helped to boost horse racing in Nevis by enhancing the competitions and drew participation from Antigua. His horse ‘Thunder’ was very competitive.
He was one of the persons who redid the horse race track in Nevis.
His other interests include Sailing, golf, travel, tennis, and cricket.
Though recognized as a highly trained medical doctor, Dwayne Thwaites is first and foremost a humble human being who delivers world class medical care in a humane way. He makes an effort to build relationships in order to ensure the seamless delivery of such care.
We at the Observer salute his indomitable will and zeal to turn his passion for men’s health into his profession. We are also thrilled to have been able to present this humble giant as our ‘Person of the Year’.