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Heroic Doctor Sacrifices Everything to Help Needy

ByABC News via logo
December 15, 2006, 8:37 AM

Dec. 15, 2006 — -- To those who need him most, Robert Paeglow is called simply "Dr. Bob."

But he's so much more than a doctor to them, he's also a confidant, a spiritual adviser and a hero.

Paeglow has taken the least likely of journeys in his life.

For more information, please visit Paeglows' Web site at

Twenty years ago, he was living comfortably as an X-ray technician when suddenly he had an epiphany.

"I began to have this incredible sorrow that the world was not better because I was here than if I was never born," Paeglow said. "That's the thing that scared me the most -- that I had an opportunity to make a difference for somebody else and I didn't."

So at age 36, despite having a wife, four kids and a mortgage, he decided to go to medical school.

"I knew what his grades were in college, and I knew it would be an act of God to get him in," said his wife, Liliane Paeglow.

But he did get in. In 1994, he graduated from Albany Medical College in New York.

He started working in a family practice and spending his vacation time going on missions to Africa helping the desperately needy there, but his thirst to help others still wasn't quenched.

Five years ago, Paeglow gave up everything all over again to open a clinic in the poorest section of Albany, the area where he'd grown up.

"In many ways, these are the forgotten people, you know -- the folks that you kind of drive by their neighborhoods on the highway and you never see their faces," he said. "We got a vision to open a center where they could have all their needs met -- their medical needs, their spiritual needs, food, clothing, whatever to the best of our ability."

Paeglow treats his patients, prays with his patients, and gives them medicine if he has it. If he doesn't, he'll pay for it, if need be.

As a result, the Paeglows have very little that is their own. They live rent-free in a church rectory. Their car was donated, and their savings account is nonexistent.

"It was worth it. Worth it that I was able to fulfill a dream. Take care of people who no one else really cares much about," he said. "I consider myself a very rich person. I don't have any money, but I am rich."