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Dr. Stamatios Lerakis with the team of the Greek-American physicians who recently visited the Ecumenical Patriarchate on the Thronal Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle and received his ‘ofikion’ as an Archon from Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
(Photo GOA/DIMITRIOS PANAGOS)
BOSTON – Professor Stamatios Lerakis was a member of the team of four Greek-American physicians who treated Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew during his visit to the United States in October of 2021. The Patriarch, to show his appreciation – during the anniversary celebration of the Thronal Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle – made them archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and bestowed upon them the appropriate ‘ofikia’ – titles.
Dr. Lerakis received the ofikion of ‘Aktouarios’ and in an interview with The National Herald said that “it was a tremendous honor and a blessing to be able to be there at the Phanar and receive the ofikion from His All Holiness.”
Dr. Lerakis had been at the Phanar and had met His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in 2013 when he visited with Metropolitan Kyrillos, who also had officiated at Dr. Lerakis wedding.
When he was asked what he thought about the health of His All Holiness, Dr. Lerakis said that he found His All Holiness “very strong; in great shape; walking fast; going up steps with no problem; with very sharp mind – basically with no problem at all.”
When asked how he felt about contributing in the care of His All Holiness, he said that, “it was a blessing for all of us and we are very happy that His All Holiness is doing great. With the medical treatment that is currently receiving he will remain in great shape for many more years to come and this is very important because our Orthodox faith needs his leadership and guidance more than ever.”
Dr. Lerakis grew up in the village of Kalamoti in the island of Chios, where he finished the Lyceum (High School). He then he graduated from the medical school of the University of Athens and went to the United States for his medical training in cardiology. He did his subspecialty of Noninvasive Cardiology at Emory University, where he remained for twenty years and became Professor of Cardiology and Radiology.
About four years ago he moved to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York where he is now Professor of Cardiology and Radiology and the Director of Noninvasive Cardiology of Mount Sinai Heart and the Director of Imaging for Structural and Valve Interventions for the Mount Sinai Health System.
Asked why he chose a career in medicine Dr Lerakis stated that it was “because as a physician you can contribute to society, you can help people, and you can make people feel better.”
Dr. Lerakis believes that “the heart’s worst enemy is stress and genetics – family history. If you have bad genes you have to try harder to prevent a cardiac problem compared to one with no family history and good genes. Other risk factors include smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, and a sedentary life – but the worst is stress and bad genes.”
He said that every time he treats a patient, “you feel good and happy as a doctor” but he added that “sometimes even if you try hard and do everything possible you may not be able to save a life or help a patient as much as you like. But even if you can make a small positive difference in the life and health of a patient, it gives you a great feeling, that you are able to help the patient and the family.”
When he was asked whether when he perform medical procedures he asks himself who created the human body with so much detail and perfection, he said “yes, certainly someone with superior power than us, especially for the believers God – and I believe very much. Despite our tremendous medical progress, we will never be able to reach, to even come close, to the mastery and superior power, of God.”
He noted about his field that, “the field of cardiac transplantation has progressed tremendously,” and he also explained that, “the field of non-invasive cardiology includes echocardiography, nuclear cardiology, cardiac MRI – and in the last few years cardiac CT, with which you can evaluate the coronary arteries for stenosis without the need of cardiac catheterization.”
Dr. Lerakis, who is married to Ioanna Dafermou – they have a son, Alexandros – spoke warmly of his parents, about whom he noted, “they had no relation to medicine at all. My mother didn’t even finish elementary school, but from when I was a small boy, she was encouraging me and my brother to study hard and get the best education possible; my father was in the restaurant business.”
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