A young Italian pediatrician and a young Canadian surgeon meet by chance, or perhaps by destiny. A special partnership ensues, strenghtened by a common vocation for medicine and a love that defies all adversity. And so, day after day, Piero and Lucille’s dream comes true: a hospital of Ugandans for Ugandans, run as efficiently as possible and able to continue “after them.”
Much more than a physician: an entrepreneur, an alliance builder.
In the perennial and search for funding, with determination he managed to realize a dream: a large and well-equipped hospital and training center.
Born in 1925 in Besana Brianza, in the province of Milan, to a family of textile entrepreneurs, Piero Corti graduated in medicine and specialized in radiology, neuropsychiatry, and pediatrics. During an internship in Montréal he met Lucille Teasdale, among the first women in the world to devote herself to surgery.
They have a dream in common: to serve where the need is greatest.
They will realize it in Africa, in the heart of the savannah.
Piero accepts from the Bishop of Gulu the position of Director of Lacor Hospital, a small hospital built by the Comboni Missionaries.
It was 1961 when, thanks to a flight of the Italian Air Force engaged in UN humanitarian missions in Congo, Piero landed in Uganda with medicines and equipment. This cargo ship would be followed by others, loaded with the generosity of friends and donors.
By his side is Lucille, who was supposed to stay a couple of months to start up the surgical department, but will stay all her life as his bride.
They will have a baby girl: Dominique Atim, which in Acholi, the local language, means “born far from home.”
Piero and Lucille’s goal is ambitious: “to ensure the best possible care for the greatest number of people at the lowest cost.”
His is a modern, forward-looking vision that will enable Lacor Hospital to become one of the largest nonprofit hospitals in all of Equatorial Africa.
Determined and courageous, Lucille Teasdale was born in Montréal, Canada, in 1929. At only 13 years old, she decided to become a missionary doctor. She would choose surgery, then an almost exclusively male profession.
Recognized by her homeland as a “national hero,” she joined Piero in developing and seeking support for the hospital, performed more than 13 thousand surgeries including hundreds for war trauma, and trained dozens of Italian and Ugandan doctors by her example and teachings.
Her dream to hand over the hospital to Ugandans, is a reality today.
With tireless dedication, he embodied one of his strongest convictions: to be part of the solution to the problems that plague humanity.
Even at the cost of his life. He would die from contracting, in the operating room, an as yet unknown virus: HIV. She will continue to work to the last, despite the suffering associated with the disease.
Among the first women surgeons in Canada, today her determination and commitment are told in a graphic novel dedicated to her story that won the Orbil Prize of independent children’s bookstores and has been translated into French and English.
Lucille is buried at Lacor, among “her” people, who still remember her in the songs that are passed down.