President's Column: Recognizing CT Surgeons Who Make a Difference Outside of the OR

Douglas E. Wood, MD

STS News, Fall 2013 -- It is hard to believe that the year is going by so quickly and that the 50th Anniversary Meeting is almost upon us. Throughout this year I have been impressed with the hard-working dedication of both the surgeon volunteers and STS staff in preparing for this special celebration of our society. From the perspective of most of us, the organization of the scientific sessions, Tech-Con, STS University, and the social functions surrounding the meeting appear to take place with ease and perfection, a little bit like watching NASA place a man on the moon. However, the complexity and logistics of putting on a major scientific meeting, particularly a major anniversary celebration, is not dissimilar to the complexities of a moon landing.

I cannot tell you how humbled and impressed I am as I have watched our surgeons and staff collaborate to organize a "once-in-a-lifetime" STS meeting. The Workforce on Annual Meeting, led by Dr. Tom Varghese, have reviewed a record number of abstract submissions and selected the best quality and most relevant papers to highlight the advances in our specialty. Damon Marquis, Director of Education and Member Services, and his staff do the important behind-the-scenes work of translating these abstract selections into a well-coordinated and meaningful 4-day program for our members.

The STS Marketing and Communications team, led by Natalie Boden, are planning diverse functions and displays to commemorate 50 years of STS history. We will be celebrating the founders who conceived and envisioned a specialty society that would be an inclusive home for cardiothoracic surgeons in the United States and Canada, as well as important milestones in our specialty and our society over the past 5 decades.

Courtney Miller Donovan and her Meetings and Conventions staff have been working diligently to make all of the meeting details work like clockwork. Hotel rooms, meeting rooms, receptions, menus, audiovisual logistics, exhibits, and our special social functions require endless amounts of behind-the-scenes organization in order to make the meeting both fun and meaningful for our members and guests.

These are only a handful of the people who are working hard to make this year’s meeting the best ever. I want to thank them for all of their hard work and encourage our members to make a special effort to attend this 50th anniversary meeting in Orlando. Believe me, it will be worth it! And I want to make a special invitation to our international members and their colleagues. STS has become an increasingly diverse international organization, and we plan to recognize and celebrate the contributions of our international members and the global scope of cardiothoracic surgery.

One of the things I have increasingly appreciated and recognized is the amount of service and community contributions that our members make even beyond the patients and hospitals that they serve professionally. Within this issue of STS News are inspiring stories of three of our members who are serving overseas in the military. In my view, Drs. d’Amato, Donahue, and Wright are everyday heroes in their selfless sacrifice to help our soldiers, and often local civilians, to survive injuries that would otherwise be life-changing or life-ending.

I would like to use our 50th Anniversary Meeting to recognize the tremendous contributions of our members to their communities outside of cardiothoracic surgery. I have been inspired and impressed by the heroic stories of cardiothoracic surgeons leading and making a difference, even beyond the practice of medicine; stories of service to our country in the armed forces, politics, advocacy; stories of leadership in local communities, volunteering to help those in need, mentoring children, students, and athletes; stories of selfless support and commitment to international relief and medical programs; stories of heroism that has changed communities and individuals for the better.

I would like to highlight these everyday stories of how cardiothoracic surgeons dedicate themselves to their community, their place of worship, and their country. I plan to discuss them in the 50th Anniversary Presidential Address and also provide an exhibit in the meeting hall that celebrates the everyday heroes that we count as our colleagues. Please use this link,, to tell me about your own story or to tell me about a friend or colleague who you think is remarkable and who you think should have some recognition and acknowledgment by our peers.

Thank you for taking the time to showcase the ways cardiothoracic surgeons make a difference in their community and in the world. What better way to celebrate our golden anniversary in Orlando January 25-29, 2014? I look forward to seeing you there.