Lajos Papp, the world famous cardiologist

I humbly confess that I had never heard of Lajos Papp as a world famous cardiologist, as some people call him, before his name kept cropping up in extreme right-wing circles. To my mind, he is the parody of all those semi-mad nationalists who think that God just dropped them into the twenty-first century by mistake and that their real selves rode next to Chieftain Árpád leading the Hungarians into the Carpathian basin at the end of the ninth century. For everybody’s edification here is Dr. Papp’s, pardon, Professor Papp’s portrait.Papp Lajos 

I corrected myself because today when György Bolgár introduced him as Dr. Lajos Papp, renowned cardiologist, he corrected him: he was Professor Papp. To my mind Dr. or Professor Papp is a little mad and I’m surprised to see that some people take him seriously as a man whose only purpose in life is “to heal the Hungarian People.” Written this way: both words capitalized although according to Hungarian spelling rules neither “Hungarian” (magyar) nor  “people” (emberek) is capitalized. But, obviously, for our super nationalist this is not good enough.

But if his aim is “to heal the Hungarian People” who put him through school and without whom he would be nothing, then why did he announce, in an open letter published in Magyar Nemzet, his retirement not only from his job as director of the Heart Center (Szívcentrum) of the Pécs University’s medical school but also from his work as a surgeon? In his letter and many of his subsequent interviews we learn the answer: the Hungarian government, the ministry of health, the president of his university are all guilty of “Hungarian Genocide” and he will not assist them in their murderous activities. Why are they murderers? Because they demand that he spend only a certain amount of money, less than he would like. The murderers above him want to make sure that he schedules cases so that the center can break even financially, with urgent cases of course receiving top priority. Whether this is a good method of controlling cost, I can’t tell. However, this is the situation and I’m sure that really urgent cases are handled immediately and that no one died or is dying because of neglect.

It seems to me that Professor Papp and some of his enterprising colleagues came to the conclusion sometime back in March that they as entrepreneurs could do a better job than the government. In plain language, they wanted to privatize the services of the Heart Center in Pécs. It seems that neither the dean of the Medical School nor the president of the university had any intention of allowing them to privatize the center. Instead, they warned Papp several times to improve the Heart Center’s financial performance: month after month it was in the red. And then came the open letter that appeared in Magyar Nemzet, in which he called the president of the university a mass murderer who is responsible for a number of deaths. In the same open letter Papp also announced his plans for retirement within a few weeks. It seems that this letter was the last straw for the president of the university: a couple of days ago he announced that after consultation with the dean of the Medical School he decided to relieve Papp of his duties as of the end of this month.

One would have thought that Papp, who wanted to retire anyway, would leave quietly. After all, he didn’t want to be part of the Hungarian Genocide committed in the medical field by the Gyurcsány government. But no, what did I hear this morning? Dr. Papp is contesting his dismissal. According to him, he was appointed for five years to head the Heart Center of the Pécs Medical School, and therefore he is legally the head of the center until 2012. Unless he was sentenced by a Hungarian court for a misdemeanor or was deemed incompetent he has the right to his job until that time. And surely he was neither sentenced nor is incompetent. He explained that years ago he had been in a similar situation and then it took him nine years to win his case against his former employer. But now he doesn’t have that much time: he himself has had six heart operations and surely he will die before a Hungarian court rules in his favor. Thus the whole thing is about as confused as Dr. Papp himself. Does he want to retire or not? Did he want to privatize the Heart Center? What does it mean that he doesn’t want to work anymore as a surgeon but “he wants to heal the Hungarian People”? Why is he suing the university if he wanted to retire anyway?

It seems that working with Dr. Papp is not an easy business. Rumors are flying about conflicts at every job he has ever held. I’m sure that his nine-year fight in a dispute with a former employer is just the tip of the iceberg. There are other rumors: apparently he not only accepted money in envelopes from grateful patients, which is not illegal, but he demanded a certain fee ahead of the surgical procedure, which is illegal. I have relatives in Pécs with medical connections, and the rumor in town is that the fee was 100,000 Ft for the world famous surgeon to operate on you. That may not seem overly expensive, after all it is only 400 some euros, but considering that it is illegal to ask money ahead of time and that medical treatment should not involve extra expense it is pretty bad. Especially from someone who loves “the Hungarian People” so much.

As for his interesting turn of phrase that instead of performing surgical procedures he wants “to heal the Hungarian People,” I think I have the answer. He wants to be the real “doctor of the nation.” He wants to get involved in extreme right-wing politics. I do hope that he will be able to speak only in the name of very few people.


  1. I don’t know the details of Dr. Papp’s situation or his qualities as a medical doctor. However, knowing something about the health care system, this seems to me to be a perfect example of one of the many ills in the system.
    Senior doctors, by in large, are against the wholescale reform of the system, and the introduction of true market mechanisms. Instead they support the status quo, with Government funding 100% of the costs, while benefitting from their senior position to quasi-privatise their practices and collect extra cash for themselves from the patients through pre- and post- operation payments. In the end, the State is meant to pick up the costs of operating the hospital, and the doctors take a fee in their pocket that is never taxed. It is rotten, and to break this system one needs to breakdown the power of the senior doctors it benefits and the politicians need the courage (laugh!) to chnage fundamentally the provision of health care services.
    Finally, if Papp was really going to privatise properly his clinic and this was part of other efforts to do the same across the country, it could be a good thing. It just can’t or should not be on an ad hoc basis.

  2. NWO: “Finally, if Papp was really going to privatise properly his clinic and this was part of other efforts to do the same across the country, it could be a good thing. It just can’t or should not be on an ad hoc basis.”
    I think you know that I would also be in favor of privatization of Hungarian healthcare. However, many senior doctors think of privatization as getting something for nothing. They would steal the whole thing. When hospitals were closed under Molnár and Horváth, apparently the good old doctors took everything they could lay their hands on.

  3. From the very beginning of time doctors have always seen themselves in a unique position. If you could make someone who was ill feel better you are special. In society a doctor (or Surgeon) was always respected and listened to. As a group they tend to be conservative (with a small ‘c’) since it is in their own interest to preserve the ‘status-quo’. In the U.K. at the beginning of the National Health Service there was much dissention from the British Medical Association so much so that Aneurin Bevan the then minister of health yhad to silence them by ‘stuffing theirm mouths with gold’. It may have been this unique position in society and Stalin’s anti-sematism that brought about the so called ‘Doctor’s Plot’
    I have never heard of Mr Papp (he is a surgeon and in the UK is therefore called ‘Mister’ not ‘Doctor’). It is a title which they use with pride –after all the Collage of Barber-Surgeons was founded in 1540. The fact that Mr Papp is a surgeon does not stop him from being a ‘loonie’. Like Mr Orban who wants to be the father of the country, Mr Papp wants to be its doctor. I persume that once Mr Orban has finished with the insemination, Mr Papp will act as the mid-wife for the pending delivery(ies). I do hope he will proscribe something for Mr Orban as that worthy is almost certain to contracted one or more ‘social disease(s)’ during his attempt at national fatherhood. I think a 5Kg ‘dynamite enema’ might be suitable and would cure a lot of ills.
    I am sorry but I do dislike demagogues.

  4. I have never heard of this world famous doctor until this spring, when I learned that the Hungarian House was inviting him to be the key note speaker at the 20th of August celebrations. All I was told that he is world famous, a heart specialist and a proponent of the Sacred Crown Tenet.
    “A winning combination” I thought and left it at that.
    But shortly after, I bumped into an article about the “mass rally” held on the St. Stephan Square in the heart of Vienna, where two or three Hungarian maniacs made speeches, under the intense disinterest of the local police and the thousands of indifferent tourists, against everything un-Hungarian. And guess who was one of these maniacs? Yes, the world famous surgeon.
    Now, you must know, that there is a woman, a lawyer in Vienna, by the name of Annamaria Barky, who is a favourite of MIEP gatherings and all such events, where the old ultra-right nonsense can be rehashed, preferably in an accented Hungarian language, heavily tainted with German and Stupidity.
    The gathering in central Vienna was probably organized by this woman and she was one of the speakers as well. But we are more interested in the doctor. He courageously spoke up in favour of the Saint Crown Tenet, demanded the re-configuration of Hungary accordingly and sent everybody else to hell. (because, you see, he is also a religious maniac, as his book attests)
    I wouldn’t guess how you would feel about this, but I should be definitely suspicious of any medic who has the redemption of the world in mind, while he is supposed to heal me.
    This guy is one of those excentrics, so endearing when we read about the British originals, but outright dangerous in our midst as the Hungarian copycat. It is outright fortunate, that he is leaving the profession just when his mania is overtaking him.
    I don’t know if he is really coming to visit us here in Toronto, but if he does, I may get up and repeat the performance I did for Morvai.

  5. @Sandor
    *** “This guy is one of those eccentrics, so endearing when we read about the British originals, but outright dangerous in our midst as the Hungarian copycat.” ***
    I have long been worried by the Hungarian lack of a sense of humour. Laughter is a potent weapon against twerps like Mr Papp. If you laugh at them they become harmless. Or they can be used as a punishment for minor misdemeanours. Offenders are sent to listen to them. As in the Mikado’s song ‘My Object all sublime’.

  6. Back to you Ondin’s:
    The Hungarian sense of humor is not quite lost.
    In fact, there is a tradition of humor, rivaling any, including the English. (Even if not winning.)
    Perhaps you didn’t have a chance to compare some translations of English humor, such as Leacock, or Winnie the poo, that are definitely funnier in Hungarian than in the original. But that is due to one single man, the translator Karinthy, who’s genius is unrivaled and singular, never to be repeated.
    However, humor forever had been one of the main intellectual product of Hungary. Just to mention two prominent “exported” humorists, Ephraim Kishon of Israel and George Mikes of Britain. But beyond these princes of humor themselves exported, there remained a rich production of humor of the “folk” variety. For example the National Library has on its website thousands of jokes, mostly political, available in several collections, in a scholarly orgalization.
    Finally, and also arbitrarily, let me call your attention to a new type of humor exported, vicariously.
    The brilliant, young British novelist, Tibor Fischer, Booker Price nominee, is also Hungarian in a sort of second generational way. I just discovered him and his books recently, and I can promise you his humor is so typically Hungarian that I sometimes have to shake my head: how can he do this, whereas he was born to be English.
    So, I assure you, unlike the Norvegian Blue, Hungarian humor is not dead, it is only sleeping, due to the fact that the population is not alert enough and not refined enough to discover the ludicrousness of their existence just now. But a new generation is coming and they will not be as earnest as the present one and will soon have enough leisure to turn their attention to humor again.

  7. Few people know that the Hungarian version of Winnie the Pooh was in fact translated by Karinthy’s *wife* – though he himself did the verses, it’s true. I would not, however, say that it’s necessarily better than the English version, though quite fine.

  8. Jim, better was not mentioned. How could be the translation be “better” than the original. Better it is not, funnier it is.

  9. Well, sometimes a translation can be better – take Frédi és Béni (The Flintstones) for example – much better in Hungarian! (And funnier.)

  10. I personally know Dr.Papp,and I have to tell you guys,he is not an easy person.We used to work on the Heart Surgery Clinic in Budapest. He could not get me….I was a nurse there.I disliked him so much,he was so full of himself at junger age already. Actually,nobody liked him,he always been on the high horse,thinking,he is better than anybody. He was not….
    Anyways,I am glad,I did not have to put up with his crap to long.

  11. @M: “I personally know Dr.Papp,and I have to tell you guys,he is not an easy person.”
    I hope you noticed that he got some kind of high decoration on August 20. The man is a nut with his crazy ideas of Hungarians’ living in the Carpathian Basin for the last 40,000 years.

  12. Professor you write ** “The man is a nut with his crazy ideas of Hungarians’ living in the Carpathian Basin for the last 40,000 years” *.
    Mr Papp may just be right judging by some of the proto-Neanderthals in Fidesz and other political parties.

  13. Given that genetic comparisons between bodies dating from Árpád’s time and modern day Hungarians show no genetic connection, there probably HAVE been ‘Hungarians’ living in the Carpathian basin for the last 40,000 years.
    It’s just that they weren’t Hungarians.

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