September 12, 2019

Alumnus Dr. Duane Sands leads Bahamas health efforts in aftermath of Hurricane Dorian

A Wayne State University School of Medicine residency and fellowship alumnus is on the front lines of the devastation left in the wake of Hurricane Dorian on the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

Duane Sands
Bahamas Minister of Health Duane Sands, M.D.

As the minister of Health for the island nation, Duane Sands, M.D., is serving as the spokesman for the Bahamas’ rescue efforts. Dorian, a Category 5 storm, made multiple landfalls Sept. 1, stalling over the islands for nearly two days and hitting Grand Bahama and Abaco islands in particular.

Dr. Sands completed his general surgery residency with Wayne State University in 1991, and a Thoracic Surgery fellowship at WSU and Detroit Medical Center in 1994. He moved back to the Bahamas soon after, where he started the first successful heart surgery program. He was named minister of Health in 2016.

Donald Weaver, M.D., chair of the Michael and Marian Ilitch Department of Surgery at WSU, called Dr. Sands a close friend and active department alumnus.

“Dr. Sands has always had a passion for helping people. He returned to his country after training to establish a world class chest surgery center in the Bahamas. Having been successful in that, he naturally turned to politics to influence health care policy,” Dr. Weaver said. “I’m so proud of one of our past trainees, to see him step forward to lead in this difficult time for his nation – but I’m not surprised. He has been preparing his entire career for this and our department is honored to have been an essential part of his training.”

In addition to interviews with national and Bahamian media, Dr. Sands is using his public Facebook page,, to provide health-related updates on the rescue efforts and medical care services.

A preliminary report referenced in a Sept. 12 article by The Associated Press estimates Dorian caused a total of $7 billion in damage when it hit. The official death toll of 50 is expected to increase.

To donate to relief efforts, visit