Cindy Christian, MD Cindy Christian, MD Remember our CHOP Alumni Motto:

Keep … Tradition, Keep … in Mind, Keep … in Touch!

There is always a lot of news to share, but this column will be devoted to 2 of our beloved colleagues who passed away this spring, Dr. Kwaku Ohene-Frempong and Dr. Doug Canning.

If you are a regular reader of this column, you might recall that each spring, at the annual meeting of the medical staff, we bestow the hospital’s highest honor, the Richard D. Wood Distinguished Alumni Award, to a CHOP alumnus who has made outstanding and impactful contributions to pediatric care. This past winter, we selected Dr. Ohene-Frempong (affectionally known at KOF) as the recipient of this award, unaware that he was ill with cancer. KOF passed away only a few weeks before our annual meeting, and we were so honored to have his wife, Janet, accept the award posthumously.

Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, MD

Ohene Frempong Headshot Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, MD Dr. Ohene-Frempong was a remarkable man of many accomplishments. His life’s work was motivated by personal challenge, when his beloved first son, Kwame, was diagnosed with sickle cell disease. KOF was a medical student at Yale at the time, and Kwame’s diagnosis compelled KOF to devote his life’s work to combating the disease. And he had remarkable success in doing so. KOF is widely regarded as a world leader in sickle cell disease treatment and is renowned for his work in pediatric sickle cell. He led the development of sickle cell disease treatment centers in the United States and globally.

Dr. Ohene-Frempong spent most of his career at CHOP, training as a hematology-oncology fellow and spending more than 30 years as a hematologist at the hospital, establishing the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center and treating thousands of patients, before moving back to Ghana to work full time to improve the identification of sickle cell and raise the standard of care for Ghanaian children impacted by the disease. His work was instrumental in understanding the natural course of SCD and establishing effective therapies and even cures for the disease. For his work he received many honors. For example, in 2020 he was the first civilian to receive the Assistant Secretary of Health Exceptional Service Medal from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for his outstanding contributions on behalf of the millions worldwide suffering from SCD.

KOF was also an Olympic athlete, representing Ghana in the 1972 Olympics in the 110-meter hurdles. In 1996, the NCAA presented KOF the Silver Anniversary Award, which recognizes 6 distinguished former student-athletes on their 25th anniversary as college graduates. Dr. Ohene-Frempong had an incredible life story. His legacy includes not only all the things he personally accomplished, but his impact on the world’s children whose lives he saved, the physicians he mentored, and the countless families he touched.

Douglas A. Canning, MD

Douglas Canning Headshot Douglas A. Canning, MD We were all shocked to learn of the sudden passing of Douglas A. Canning, MD, after a cycling accident over Memorial Day weekend. Doug served as Chief of the Division of Urology at CHOP for the past 25 years, Vice-Chair for Clinical Affairs in CHOP's Department of Surgery, and Professor of Surgery (Urology) in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.  He held the Leonard and Madlyn Abramson Endowed Chair in Pediatric Urology.

For decades, Doug served as a leader, clinician, investigator, innovator, educator, and staunch patient advocate at CHOP, becoming a world-renowned expert in bladder and cloacal exstrophy and hypospadias care. Working with pediatric urology colleagues at CHOP, Boston Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Doug led the Multi-institutional Bladder Exstrophy Consortium (MIBEC), which has dramatically improved the lives of children worldwide born with this serious birth defect.

Dr. Canning, who joined the faculty at CHOP in 1992, directed one of the largest and most comprehensive pediatric urology programs in the world. Under his leadership, CHOP Urology grew to 12 surgeon-scientists and 21 advanced practice health professionals and established 6 endowed chairs, while the Urology academic program trained more than 30 fellows and more than 100 residents. He was very proud that CHOP Urology was consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the nation’s top pediatric urology program by reputation and that the pediatric urology fellowship attracted its highest-ranked applicant in the match every year during his tenure. He was a leader both at home and internationally. 

Doug was past president of both the Society for Pediatric Urology and the Society of Academic Urologists, and internationally, he was elected to the prestigious American Association of Genitourinary Surgeons. At CHOP, he was past president of both the Executive Committee of the Medical Staff and of Children’s Surgical Associates. But most importantly, Doug was a most amazing colleague and friend to so many. He had an infectious personality, was kind to everybody, and—it is true—he brought out the best in everyone who had the joy of knowing and working with him. Dr Canning is survived by his wife, Annabelle, and his children, John, Caroline, and Madeline.

These untimely deaths remind me that life is short and so fragile. My hope is that perhaps you might be inspired to reach out to an old friend, CHOP alum, a loved one, and enjoy the privilege that life has given you.

Be well.


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