Doctor Joan heeded the call of the wild

09 November 2020 - 16:10
Joan Louwrens' unconventional medical path has seen her working on all seven continents and some oceans in between.
Joan Louwrens' unconventional medical path has seen her working on all seven continents and some oceans in between.
Image: Supplied

Dr Joan Louwrens has always been drawn to wild places, which are balm to her soul.

When her husband died, leaving her alone with two small daughters to raise, she threw herself wholeheartedly into "adventure medicine", seeking out the world’s most remote corners on land and at sea to practice healing, both her own and others.

Working in wild places from the Kruger National Park to the Australian outback, the Atlantic Ocean islands, and both the Arctic and Antarctic, "Doctor Joan" has dealt with a vast range of medical challenges from rabies to deep vein thrombosis, childbirth to wisdom tooth extraction, catatonia to depression.

Showing an eagerness to learn and a humility that aren’t always a given in her profession, and with a wry eye and a sympathetic outlook, Louwrens has written a memoir that’s a poignant and often funny story of a life lived to the full.

Joan Louwrens is a South African medical doctor with additional qualifications in family medicine, anaesthetics and tropical medicine. Initially a general practitioner with a special interest in palliative care, she swerved onto an unconventional medical path that saw her working on all seven continents and some oceans in between, sometimes with her two daughters in tow. Home is a wild piece of land near Knysna.