Philadelphia, Pa. (March 17, 2017) — David A. Spiegel, MD, a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is the 2017 recipient of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ (AAOS) Humanitarian Award. For over 20 years, Dr. Spiegel has been practicing humanitarian work in Nepal, Iraq and other underserved regions, bringing his expertise in neuromuscular disorders, spine conditions and trauma care to children around the world.
The AAOS Award honors humanitarians who improve the human condition through saving lives, improving the quality of life and alleviating suffering, while supporting and contributing to the basic human dignity of those in need.
According to Dr. Spiegel, it was “the development of close relationships with colleagues in austere environments, coupled with the realization that there are enormous gaps in the delivery of orthopaedic care both between and within low and middle-income countries,” that led him to pursue charitable work. He originally became involved with philanthropy in 1996 while spending a month in Kathmandu, Nepal, with Ashok Banskota, MD, orthopaedic surgeon and founder of the Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children. There, he learned about the challenges of caring for complex pathology, often delayed in presentation, in a setting with limited resources. That initial trip permanently influenced his thought process, academic interests and career path.
Since then, Dr. Spiegel has visited Nepal 20 times, including a six-month visit in 2004 during the height of the Nepalese Civil War, when he introduced the Ponseti method for clubfoot treatment, subsequently treating more than 4,000 patients throughout the years by using this technique. He also volunteered after the earthquake in April 2015. In addition to his work in Nepal, he also developed a close relationship with Thamer Hamdan, MD, and colleagues at the University of Basra, in Iraq. There, Dr. Spiegel serves as an honorary professor and has made a two-week visit yearly since 2011.
John M. Flynn, MD
“I congratulate Dr. Spiegel for such an achievement,” says John M. Flynn, MD, chief of the Division of Orthopaedics at CHOP. “I can confidently say that his selflessness, paired with his surgical knowledge and expertise, makes him an outstanding physician both here and abroad. I’m proud to call Dr. Spiegel a colleague and commend him for this accomplishment.”
“It has been a privilege to serve, and to continue to serve, those who desperately require assistance,” says Dr. Spiegel. “I have always believed that the greatest value lies in the transfer of contextually relevant knowledge and skills. If I feel that if I’m able to teach, to truly improve the quality of care by transferring even just a granule of knowledge, then my efforts were a success.”
Dr. Spiegel has been a strong advocate for essential surgical services in low and middle-income countries. His goal is to target common problems cost effectively, within the context of universal access.
In addition to his work abroad, he is an Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He attended Duke University for undergraduate college, medical school and orthopaedic surgical residency training, before completing both a research and a clinical fellowship in pediatric orthopaedics at CHOP.
Dr. Spiegel has served on the advisory board of Ponseti International Organization and Miracle Feet to promote global clubfoot care, and on the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America’s (POSNA) Committee on Children’s Orthopaedics in Underdeveloped Regions (COUR). He is currently on the AAOS International Committee and chairs their international scholars program. Dr. Spiegel also worked as a consultant for the World Health Organization (WHO) in Mongolia and Somalia, and was on the steering committee for the WHO’s Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care.
Dr. Maryam Y. Naim
He was previously recognized with the President’s Call to Service Award by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation in 2006, the Golden Apple Award from Health Volunteers Overseas in 2009, POSNA’s Humanitarian Award in 2013, and the Walter P. Blount Humanitarian award from the Scoliosis Research Society in 2016.
To date, he has delivered more than 250 lectures in countries including Somalia, China, Iran, Mongolia, India and Pakistan. He resides in Philadelphia with his wife, Dr. Maryam Y. Naim, who is a pediatric cardiac intensive care physician at CHOP, and their four-year-old daughter Sophia.