When Francois Luks, MD PhD, pediatric surgeon-in-chief at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, meets with the parents of a young patient before a complex operation, he turns to illustration to calm their nerves. On a whiteboard in an exam room, Dr. Luks will sketch up a quick diagram of a part of the body and how he’ll eventually operate on it, walking the parent through the surgery step by step with simple visual cues. He whips out a pad of paper and sketches a graceful side profile in one swift motion to demonstrate how he might visually explain a neck lesion operation, as one example.
Illustration transcends language, Dr. Luks says, bringing comfort to patients and families who might not speak English natively. “Medicine really has a lot of complicated jargon,” he says. “So it’s sometimes easier to explain with a drawing than with words.”
Over the course of his career, Luks has found a certain personal solace in illustration, too. As a medical student in Belgium, he illustrated a daily comic strip for a local newspaper. And at Brown University, Luks teaches a course dedicated to medical illustration.
Today, a series of his digital illustrations pay homage to Rhode Island in a set of notecards displaying recognizable locales of the Ocean State, in a collection aptly entitled “Rhodeside Attractions.” Profits from the notecards’ sales directly benefit the Hasbro Children’s Hospital and its programming.
Dr. Luks’ hope is that the notecards will find their way to Rhode Islanders scattered across the country, on opposite coasts, bringing them a taste of home in a drawing of the Narragansett Towers or of Del’s Lemonade. “You go elsewhere in the country, and you can’t help but meet people from Rhode Island,” he says. “They’re everywhere.” Learn more at Rhodeside.art