Categorized | Books, Entertainment

Hilo doctor featured in ‘The Red-headed Hawaiian’


Hawaii’s most prolific author (The Tattoo, The Queen of Tears, Bolohead Row, Mililani Mauka, Boi No Good) comes through again with a ground-breaking work: this time in the non-fiction memoir genre, to tell the story of his boyhood friend Rudy Puana.

Rudy’s story, one of overcoming adversity in childhood and youth, delivers an inspirational message. Rudolph Puana grows up in hardscrabble Kahaluu, Oahu, the only pale, red-headed Hawaiian in an impoverished, brown-skinned, working-class town.

Despite early hardships, Rudy begins to learn that being different is sometimes good.

After years of earning bad grades and making worse decisions, Rudolph decides, out-of-the-blue, that he wants to become a doctor. From that day on, he endures 12 hour study sessions, feelings of inadequacy, and faces his worst fear—the possibility of having to leave Hawaii, the place he loves most, so that he can achieve his ultimate goal.

The Red-headed Hawaiian is about the hard work and sacrifices that have to be made in order to achieve one’s dreams. It’s a story that shows toughness is not about how hard one can hit, but that true grit exists only when one is willing to commit to working hard and doing the things he hates most.

Taking the reader from the pier community of the Windward side of Oahu to the halls of MD Anderson, one of the largest cancer treatment centers in the world, The Red-headed Hawaiian is the story of a local boy who makes good—a boy who barely graduated from high school to become one of the youngest associate directors in MD Anderson history.

Recounted with frankness and honesty, with an insider’s look into the medical industry, this memoir is the comic and surprising story of Rudolph Puana, M.D.

Chris McKinney is the author of five novels, The Tattoo, The Queen of Tears, Bolohead Row, Mililani Mauka, and Boi No Good. In 2011, he was appointed Visiting Distinguished Writer at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

He has won the Elliot Cades Award for Literature from the Hawaii Literary Arts Council and six Ka Palapala Pookela Awards from the Hawaii Book Publishers Association.

Rudolph Puana, M.D. is a double-boarded critical care physician. After graduating from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, he attended Creighton University medical school and received the prestigious Dean’s Scholarship. He completed his residency at Texas A&M University and became Associate Medical Director at MD Anderson Cancer Hospital.

In 2008, he gave up his research lab, patient care, and title and moved to the Big Island to help the under-served medical community at large.

Currently, Puana is in private practice running his own interventional pain clinic in Hilo.

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One Response to “Hilo doctor featured in ‘The Red-headed Hawaiian’”

  1. Makamae Kamaka-Mauhili says:

    Aloha Dr. Rudy,
    This is the girl that asked you what University you went too in Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi on 2/19/15. I was in the first secession you had for career day. I was interested in talking to you about it because I have a dream of becoming a doctor. I was thinking about going to Creighton and I wanted your opinion on it. I know I am going to have to take a long journey to get were I want to be but, I just want to know were to start. I understand if your too busy.

    -Mahalo Nui, Kamehameha School Student


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