Duane R. Anderson, MD, FAAOS (right), was honored with the 2024 Humanitarian Award during the Your Academy event at the AAOS 2024 Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Dr. Anderson received the award from AAOS Past President Kevin J. Bozic, MD, MBA, FAAOS (left).


Published 5/29/2024
Cailin Conner

Duane R. Anderson, MD, Receives AAOS Humanitarian Award for Transformative Healthcare Efforts in Ethiopia

During the AAOS 2024 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, Duane R. Anderson, MD, FAAOS, was honored with AAOS’ 2024 Humanitarian Award. Dr. Anderson received the award for his ongoing efforts to improve healthcare access in Ethiopia and his commitment to training future orthopaedic surgeons.

The Humanitarian Award celebrates the exemplary contributions of Active Fellows, Emeritus Fellows, and international members who have exhibited remarkable dedication to musculoskeletal-related humanitarian efforts. The award recognizes individuals who have gone above and beyond in their commitment to making a meaningful difference, whether in their local communities or on a global scale.

“I am so grateful to receive the AAOS Humanitarian Award for 2024. I am humbled by this award. I believe God created us to want and need to be appreciated. God also created us for good deeds. It’s intrinsic to being a human and also a physician,” Dr. Anderson shared.

Michael P. Leathers, MD, FAAOS, orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine physician from Sacramento, California, who met Dr. Anderson during an away rotation during his residency at University of California, Los Angeles, said, “I can’t think of anyone who is more selfless, more giving, courageous, creative, and someone who is helping to train the next generation of orthopaedic surgeons in Ethiopia than Dr. Duane Anderson.”

Dr. Anderson’s humanitarian spirit spans the globe. “I believe I was called by God at about the age of 12 to be a medical missionary when I saw a slideshow presentation by a nurse in India at our little church in northern Minnesota. I quietly said to God, ‘I will do that,’” Dr. Anderson recalled. “I finally came to Ethiopia 42 years later, after my wife and I put our last child in college. I joined a Christian mission hospital that had opened its doors just 6 months earlier.”

Work in Ethiopia
After 17 years of practice, Dr. Anderson departed from a successful orthopaedic practice in Idaho to relocate to Soddo, Ethiopia. There, he serves as chief of orthopaedic surgery at Soddo Christian Hospital, a setting where the demand for orthopaedic care is great.

Over the years, his dedication and expertise have been instrumental in transforming Soddo into a premier orthopaedic referral center serving all of Ethiopia. Through his guidance and mentorship, numerous African orthopaedic surgeons have been equipped with the skills necessary to address the region’s healthcare needs.

“He treats people who have been involved in orthopaedic traumas who would normally be taken to a level 1 trauma center in the U.S., and he does so with compassion and without a fraction of the equipment, tools, and resources,” Dr. Leathers shared. “He really does save lives and could not be more compassionate,” he continued, adding that Dr. Anderson “is a kind soul, who cares for the African people as if they are family.”

Since its establishment in January 2005, Soddo Christian Hospital has impacted the lives of more than 331,000 patients and conducted more than 68,000 surgeries. It holds a central role in Ethiopia’s healthcare, serving as a training hub for medical professionals across Africa, and is one of 16 surgical resident training sites for the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons (PAACS).

The hospital offers comprehensive medical services, including specialized care in medical, surgical, maternity, and pediatric areas. Soddo Christian Hospital addresses the healthcare needs of a population of approximately 200,000 in a region marked by high population density and poverty. Despite challenges, Soddo Christian Hospital remains dedicated to serving the community and beyond.

The core values of Soddo Christian Hospital are honesty, excellence, attitude, responsibility, and teamwork. “I can attest that Dr. Anderson has dedicated his life to following these values,” Dr. Leathers said.

Mentorship and training
As a member of the PAACS orthopaedic residency program in Soddo, Dr. Anderson is actively involved in expanding the OR facilities through a U.S. Agency for International Development grant. In acknowledgment of Dr. Anderson’s efforts to train the surgeons of tomorrow, Dr. Leathers said: “I have seen him treat pelvic fractures and open fractures with courage and creativity that are unmatched. Sometimes there is a working C-arm, but he has perfected—and even taught me and Ethiopian orthopaedic surgery residents—how to place intramedullary rods without the use of x-ray.”

With a lifelong commitment to service, Dr. Anderson has devoted himself to the training of Ethiopian orthopaedic surgery residents. His training goes beyond imparting technical skills; he teaches residents how to “think independently, be creative, solve difficult problems, and treat people with expert care and compassion,” according to Dr. Leathers.

On his time and work in Ethiopia, Dr. Anderson said, “I have become a better surgeon just because of the sheer volume of cases that I did. I was privileged to train some brilliant Ethiopians in orthopaedic surgery. They will now carry on for me. I want to thank AAOS again for the award and God and my dear wife for helping me the last 18 years.”

Cailin Conner is the associate editor for AAOS Now. She can be reached at cconner@aaos.org.