Given everything that Dr. Anthony Chan has accomplished, it’s difficult to believe he’s just one person. That he’s done it in places as diverse as Hong Kong, Tennessee, and now Hamilton, makes it seem all the more unlikely. Oh, and he has a 1-800 number. For all Chan’s accomplishments, when reporters request an interview, that’s what they ask him about first: 1-800-NOCLOTS, an international, 24-hour, seven-day-a-week pediatric thrombophilia consultation service. This service isn’t the main thrust of his work — he says with genuine modesty, “Everyone should volunteer for something, so this is what I do” — it’s just one of those great stories that can really grab a person’s attention. The hotline is used by physicians around the world to ask Chan questions about what he knows best: bleeding, clotting and stroke. And they call a lot. “My busiest day was probably nine calls,” Chan says. Fielding these calls is entirely over and above Chan’s work as a clinician, teacher and researcher.
Many of those calls are fairly ordinary, others far from it. Chan recalls one call from a U.S. Army physician telephoning from a base in Japan. The caller ended by asking if the patient should be transported immediately to the United States. “If I say yes,” asked Chan, “will you really fly the patient back to the States right now?” The doctor that, yes, he could have an armed forces plane ready to go within the hour.
Chan notes that the 1-800 number keeps him engaged with colleagues all over the world and allows him to consider a broader range of clinical questions than he would experience otherwise. For the callers, the phone number provides the chance to discuss difficult cases in a field that is relatively small.