May 7, 2020
Dear MEDISS Members:
These are interesting times. The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the lives of nearly every person on the planet. This has resulted in the need for unprecedented measures, including social distancing, closing non-essential businesses, prioritization of medical resources, and creation of hospital and intensive care capacity to address the surge of patients.
Surgeons have dealt with the treatment of infectious diseases since ancient times. From draining abscesses, treating the complications of TB, and treating patients with hepatitis and HIV; surgeons have evaluated the risks, gathered appropriate resources and protective equipment, and developed strategies to provide surgical care to patients in need. This has also sometimes required them to fill-in for other specialties around the hospital. I am truly proud of my surgical colleagues, and I continue to be inspired by how they have engaged this multi-faceted challenge.
As you are already aware, we made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 combined meeting of the 23rd Congress of the Michael E. DeBakey International Surgical Society and the Baylor College of Medicine Department of Surgery Alumni Symposium. Dr. Scott Lemaire and his program committee had planned a truly unique and outstanding program. Dr. Todd Rosengart, the Chair of the Department of Surgery, had committed resources of the department to partner with the Society to put on a fantastic meeting. Highlights of the meeting were to have been a session describing, “What’s New in the Department of Surgery.” This would have been followed the morning of the second day with the “Department of Surgery Research Day,” where the multitude of research projects in the department are presented by the residents involved. This would have then been followed by general sessions for abstract presentations from Society members. A reception, tours, and closing banquet were planned. This was in place and ready until the uncertainty of the pandemic and the travel ban. The meeting was, thus, rescheduled for next year in May. I want to thank Dr. LeMaire, his program committee, Dr. Rosengart, and the Baylor Department of Surgery for truly yeoman’s service in having put all this in place, and we look forward to meeting next year. As the 2021 plans develop, they will be posted on the web site, along with email blasts to members. It is extremely important to assure that the Office of the Secretary has your current, correct email address, as that is the primary means of communicating Society updates and meeting plans.
As discussed at the last MEDISS board meeting, we are working together at the Society and Michael De. DeBakey Department of Surgery and Alumni levels to benefit all. Dr. Rosengart is interested in a stronger alignment. The two organizations will maintain their separate identities; however, with many shared goals.
Thank you for the honor of the presidency. It has been inspiring to see the numerous individuals who do so much for our organization. I want to particularly thank Dr. Mattox and Mary Allen for decades of service coordinating the activities of the Society.
Hopefully, we are seeing the flattening of the curve of the coronavirus pandemic, with better times to come. It is inspiring to see all my surgical colleagues “Standing Their Posts” in this time of difficulties. Thank you for caring for your patients, and remember to care for your families and yourself.
Matthew J. Wall, Jr., MD
Michael Ellis DeBakey is internationally recognized as a pioneer of modern medicine. An ingenious medical inventor and innovator, a gifted and dedicated teacher, a premier surgeon, and an international medical statesman, Dr. DeBakey is relentlessly pursuing new avenues in which modern technology can be applied to the practice of healing and saving lives.
This prolific surgeon and humanitarian has performed more than 60,000 cardiovascular procedures and has trained thousands of surgeons who practice around the world. In 1976, his students founded the Michael E. DeBakey International Surgical Society. His name is affixed to a number of organizations, centers for learning, and projects devoted to medical education and health education for the general public.
Dr. DeBakey has received numerous honorary degrees from prestigious colleges and universities, as well as innumerable awards from educational institutions, professional and civic organizations, and governments worldwide. In 1969, he received the highest honor a United States citizen can receive – the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan awarded the National Medal of Science to DeBakey.