In 2010, 4 days after the devastating earthquake, John F. Lovejoy Jr, MD, and a team of surgeons and technicians arrived at Hôpital Sacré Coeur in Milot, Haiti, and began treating patients. They transformed the 73-bed hospital into a 500-bed MASH-like unit and performed more than 180 surgeries during the first week—most of them amputations.
In recognition of heroic efforts like this and more than 30 years of providing health care to the underserved in Haiti, the AAOS presented Dr. Lovejoy with the Humanitarian Award during the Ceremonial Meeting at the 2015 AAOS Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.
The Humanitarian Award honors members of the Academy who have distinguished themselves through outstanding musculoskeletal-related humanitarian activities in the United States or abroad. This award also recognizes orthopaedic surgeons who help to improve the human condition by alleviating suffering and supporting and contributing to the basic human dignity of those in need.
Helping others to help themselves
In nominating Dr. Lovejoy, John S. Kirkpatrick, MD, wrote: “Dr. Lovejoy selflessly contributes his time and resources to benefit the less fortunate and mentor future orthopaedic surgeons.”
Much of that time is spent at Hôpital Sacré Coeur, where Dr. Lovejoy has been making regular medical missions through the CRUDEM Foundation for more than 10 years. He’s been the foundation’s medical team leader since 2006.
While in Haiti, Dr. Lovejoy and his team will treat, on average per week, approximately 50 to 100 patients in clinic and perform 20 to 30 surgeries. His goal, he said, is to provide the Haitian healthcare community with the tools, supplies, and training necessary to serve their fellow countrymen.
For 20 years, Dr. Lovejoy also joined Douglas M. Campbell, MD, on annual humanitarian trips to Grenada to upgrade medical equipment, build an arthroscopic surgery equipment system, and bring Grenadian orthopaedists to the United States for training.
“As Dr. Lovejoy retired from regular practice, his humanitarian trips increased in frequency and his efforts ensured a more steady continuity of care at the hospitals,” William A. Sims, MD, said.
To provide ongoing care for those he treated after the earthquake, for example, Dr. Lovejoy solicited help from local businesses when he returned to the United States. He began constructing a prosthetics lab to make artificial limbs for the amputees, and less than 4 months after the earthquake, the lab was transported to Hôpital Sacré Coeur.
“Dr. Lovejoy not only planned, developed, and staffed the lab, but he instituted a prosthetist training program to ensure its continued success,” Dr. Kirkpatrick wrote.
Dr. Sims added, “John and his teams also planned, designed, and built a physical therapy building and program adjacent to the hospital.”
A family affair
Giving back is something that runs in Dr. Lovejoy’s family. His father was an orthopaedic surgeon and noted humanitarian. Dr. Lovejoy’s son, John Fletcher Lovejoy, MD, is a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Fla., who accompanies his father on medical missions to Haiti.
“As my children grew up, I began to involve them in my humanitarian efforts. Like me, they appreciated all they had when they saw how others struggled for existence,” Dr. Lovejoy said. “My wife supported me and encouraged the kids’ involvement. Working together on these projects drew us closer together.”
Dr. Lovejoy also urges his colleagues to get involved. Over the years, he has recruited more than 500 orthopaedic surgeons and other medical practitioners to participate in medical missions.
“Orthopaedic surgeons are very giving people. I encourage them to give back to their communities and help others who cannot afford their care,” he said.
For more information on Dr. Lovejoy’s work in Haiti, visit http://crudem.org/dr-lovejoys-haiti-response-journal/ and http://crudem.org/prosthetics-lab-update/
Maureen Leahy is assistant managing editor for AAOS Now. She can be reached at email@example.com
Previous Winners of the AAOS Humanitarian Award
2014 Scott C. Nelson, MD
2013 David S. Hungerford, MD
2012 Shafique P. Pirani, MD
2011 Taylor K. Smith, MD
2010 Larry D. Hull, MD
2009 David P. Roye Jr, MD
2008 Kaye E. Wilkins, MD
2007 Lewis G. Zirkle Jr, MD
2006 R. Richard Coughlin, MD
2005 Lawrence D. Dorr, MD
2004 Oheneba Boachie-Adjei, MD
2003 John R. Tongue, MD
2002 David Apple, MD
Charles C. P. McConnachie, MD
2001 Ernest M. Burgess, MD
Charles Hamlin, MD
2000 Charles H. Epps Jr, MD
C. Scott Harrison, MD