Ancash Peru has some incredible people doing amazing things there. There is, however, a fly in the ointment.
A man appeared a few years ago in Ancash who was announcing his medical humanitarian project that was going to cure 1,000 children with parasites. As it turned out, he was the parasite we all had to be concerned about.
This is a three part series, cautionary tale. It is a true story about a man known as “Dr.” John Wang. I feel compelled to share this story as an “All that glitters is not gold” warning.
The Chilling Secret of “Dr.” John Wang
Not too long ago, Huaraz Peru saw the arrival of a man proclaiming a mission of hope and revolutionary medical aspirations that were to alleviate over 1,000 children in dozens of poor pueblos from the threat of deadly parasites with which they were infected.
That man is one Dr. John Wang, a former cardiologist. He had arrived in Huaraz and charmed people with his 50 years of medical accomplishments and embraced anyone that could advance his agenda. Everyone from the then mayor, the media, to churches and even two congressmen had gathered into the growing cluster of admirers of the American doctor John Wang, M.D.
There was just one serious problem. Revelations have surfaced indicating that Dr. John Wang, M.D. was not a doctor at all.
The reason why he was, but no longer is a doctor is cause for alarm. Why he deliberately concealed this fact is even more disturbing. It seemed that everyone took Wang at face value. After all, he was claiming to be connected to a church in Lima that would provide 10 million dollars to Huaraz for new hospitals and was contacting the Gates Foundation and World Bank for millions more. He never missed an opportunity to brag about his connections.
After a few weeks volunteering with Wang, I began to have my doubts about him. I reserved those considerations to observe the man in action, listening to his thinking and watching his developments to determine if perhaps my judgment was overly critical or tainted by my own preconceived notions. In the past, I have seen less than genuine efforts by those proclaiming humanitarianism. I am particularly skeptical if they are hiding behind the cross of Jesus for instant credibility. Wang claims God himself sent him to Peru.
My first indication that something did not ring true was his claim that he had no money, that he was nearly destitute and lived in the house of a church pastor for free. A doctor for fifty years, who owned nothing and had nothing? I found this to be a pill too big to swallow. As a 75-year-old American citizen, he would be receiving social security checks from the U.S. government as early as age 62 which minimally would be over $1,000 per month. I decided not to raise the issue. His personal finances were his own business.
However, when a conversation later came up about flying, he claimed to be a licensed pilot and had his own airplane. Still, I decided to patiently observe him. I sat through countless hours of Wang’s monologues regarding what he knew about parasites. I took notes and listened intently. According to Wang, there were at least ten different parasites affecting children. The current procedure used to determine who is infected and to what degree used by local doctors and laboratories was severely low by his estimation. Doctors take fecal matter, smear it on a slide and look at it under a microscope. The obscured small eggs cannot be easily seen and therefore undetected. The clean bill of health would be inaccurate.
Wang proposed to first strain the fecal matter, filter and centrifuge it, stain in on a slide and then observe it under a microscope. The meticulous efforts proposed though time-consuming, seemed to be a better way to determine the extent of infestations. After the findings were made using this analysis, the parasites would be eradicated with one of the many different medicines that Wang said were needed to properly treat the children. He claimed to have a large amount of those unique medicines, US$ 30,000 worth, back in the United States specifically for this purpose.
What those medicines were doing there while Wang was here remained a mystery.
How could he possibly show more effective results with his “new and improved” methods of treating children without the necessary and correct medicines? The answer was simple, he couldn’t. Instead, he prescribed and dispensed the exact same medicine to every child which, by his own admission, was not adequate to eliminate every kind of parasite that the laboratory results detected.
That particular brand of medicine that was provided by the mayor’s aid in the Municipality had been banned in the United States because of its hazards.
This malpractice did not prevent him from arriving at Pueblos in campaigns smiling and instilling a false confidence in the children and their parents by saying, “There will be no pain for you anymore. We have killed the worms. The mayor, Vladimir Meza has given me this medicine to help you.” This deception gave the children and their parents the illusion that their parasite problems were solved, only to learn much later when the effects of the parasites ravaged the child’s health, that they were not. I asked Wang about this later. His response was shocking, “If it gets the mayor re-elected, that puts me in good with him. At that point, I can ask for anything that I want. He will do it for me out of his gratitude.”
Only later did he learn that Vladimir Meza would not be running for re-election. At 75-years-old, Wang routinely answered questions in such a convoluted manner that one cannot be sure if he was dodging the question, that he did not hear it correctly or that his advanced age had diminished his mental capabilities to some degree. When anyone asked a question that got too close to his secret, he would fly into a voracious rant that caused many to simply avoid him, which was precisely his intended result. One thing is certain however, his blatant disregard to the extent of a child’s infestation of parasites and which parasites they may have, while prescribing a “one size fits all” medicine was not an accident. This medical incompetence had victims and those victims were the trusting children.