Published 4/1/2017
Maureen Leahy

David A. Spiegel, MD, Receives Humanitarian Award

The Humanitarian Award is presented each year to a member of the Academy who has distinguished himself or herself through outstanding musculoskeletal-related humanitarian activities in the United States or abroad. This year's recipient is David A. Spiegel, MD, of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, in recognition of his dedication to improving the lives of people with orthopaedic conditions, particularly children, in underdeveloped regions. Dr. Spiegel was presented with the 2017 AAOS Humanitarian Award during the AAOS Annual Meeting.

David A. Spiegel, MD, receives the 2017 Humanitarian Award from outgoing AAOS President Gerald R. Williams Jr, MD.

In his nomination of Dr. Spiegel, Richard M. Schwend, MD, wrote, “Dave has had a tremendous impact on the delivery of essential orthopaedic care to underserved people in so many parts of the world, and has done so with great humility, selflessness, and courage. He is a tremendous ambassador for the AAOS; it's hard to imagine a more qualified candidate for this award.”

A humanitarian from the start
Dr. Spiegel became involved in humanitarian activities right out of residency. In 1996, he spent a month working alongside Ashok K. Banskota, MD, founder of the Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children (HRDC), in Banepa, Nepal. “It was a life-changing experience,” recalled Dr. Spiegel. “I was completely inspired by Dr. Banskota as he met the challenges of managing a spectrum of orthopaedic problems, often neglected, in a setting with limited resources.” Since then, Dr. Spiegel has returned to Nepal 20 times, most recently 2 weeks ago. In 2015, he went back to join his friends and assist with treating patients who sustained orthopaedic injuries during an earthquake. As the largest nonprofit pediatric orthopaedic hospital and rehabilitation center in Nepal, HRDC provides more than 1,500 surgeries each year to underprivileged children with physical disabilities. Dr. Spiegel serves as honorary consultant in orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation at HRDC and helps train orthopaedic surgery residents. He says the opportunity to develop close personal relationships with Dr. Banskota and his partners, as well as several graduates of the residency training program who are now staff at HRDC, is the most cherished aspect of his professional life. Another rewarding experience has been the development of the Ponseti clubfoot project at HRDC. After its introduction in 2004, the method was subsequently adopted for the treatment of clubfoot in patients up to age 10. “The results have been extremely encouraging, and the number of extensive surgical releases for clubfoot has declined dramatically,” said Dr. Spiegel.  Dr. Spiegel was part of a team that introduced the Ponseti method in China, and to date he has delivered more than 250 lectures on the topic in countries including Somalia, China, Iran, Mongolia, India, and Pakistan. Teacher, author, crusader
Dr. Spiegel credits his experiences in Nepal with affording him unique insights not only into the natural history of pediatric orthopaedic conditions, but also the management of neglected conditions. He has disseminated this knowledge to residents and fellows at home through instructional course lectures, symposia, and textbooks. In 2005, Dr. Spiegel became involved with the World Health Organization's “Global initiative for emergency and essential surgical care,” which addresses gaps in the provision of essential surgical services. He has become, in the opinion of Dr. Schwend, “an international authority on the introduction of essential surgical services in economically underdeveloped regions.” Dr. Spiegel has also served on the advisory boards of Ponseti International Organization, Miracle Feet, and Orthopaedics Overseas. He was chairman for 3 years of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America's (POSNA) Committee on Children's Orthopaedics in Underdeveloped Regions (COUR). He currently serves on the International Committee of the AAOS and leads the International Scholarship team. “Dr. Spiegel's activities have demonstrated a genuine desire to improve the total care, not just the quality of orthopaedic care, for people living in countries with limited resources,” wrote Kaye E. Wilkins, MD.  Dr. Spiegel has been previously honored with POSNA's Humanitarian Award (2013), the Walter P. Blount Humanitarian award from the Scoliosis Research Society (2016), the President's Call to Service Award by the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation (2006), and the Golden Apple Award from Health Volunteers Overseas (2009). However, he says he is particularly flattered to receive the 2017 AAOS Humanitarian Award. “To be recognized for doing something that gives me so much joy and that has made me a better surgeon and a better human being is amazing,” said Dr. Spiegel. “I look forward to many more years of contributing to initiatives aimed at reducing the burden of orthopaedic conditions in economically underdeveloped nations.”      Maureen Leahy is assistant managing editor of AAOS Now. She can be reached at leahy@aaos.org

Previous Winners of the AAOS Humanitarian Award

2016       Richard A. Gosselin, MD
2015       John F. Lovejoy Jr, MD
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