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"It just makes you feel good"

By Peter Pollack

Humanitarian Award winner focuses on children in China

View the presentation of the Humanitarian Award

“David Roye embodies the very essence of the physician-humanitarian,” wrote Michael G. Vitale, MD, in nominating David P. Roye Jr., MD, for the 2009 AAOS Humanitarian Award. “It is hard for me to imagine someone more deserving.”

Louis U. Bigliani, MD, agreed, calling Dr. Roye “a true humanist” who is “devoted to the betterment of mankind.”

AAOSPresident Tony Rankin, MD (left), presents David P. Roye Jr., MD, with the 2009 Humanitarian Award.

A great role model
In 1983—just a few years out of residency—Dr. Roye began working with Operation Smile—a volunteer organization that seeks to repair facial deformities such as cleft lips and cleft palates in children around the world.

“I had a great role model—my father-in-law,” explains Dr. Roye. “He was an orthopaedic surgeon, and as early as I can actually remember being aware of it, he and my mother-in-law Esther traveled the world with Care Medico.”

Dr. Roye’s charity work took him through a series of smaller independent organizations before he connected about 10 years ago with the Children of China Pediatrics Foundation (CCPF). At the time, CCPF was a brand-new organization—a government-sanctioned nonprofit providing surgical services to Chinese orphans who are wards of the state.

“I was recruited by a senior faculty member here at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, to go on—he said—just one trip to China,” laughs Dr. Roye. “I went and was fascinated by what I saw: a real commitment to learning; a real commitment to quality on the part of the Chinese physicians.”

That fascination quickly took hold of Dr. Roye. CCPF became his labor of love, and each year he makes a 3- to 5-week–long trip to China with CCPF, traveling at his own expense. He serves as the organization’s medical director and chairs its medical advisory board. An estimated 1,000 children have received care through CCPF during the past 10 years.

Each year, CCPF sends a team overseas that includes physicians from a variety of specialties, including orthopaedic surgeons, plastic surgeons, pediatric experts in intensive care, maxillofacial surgeons, nurses, and various support staff. Dr. Roye estimates that the organization has sent about 150 providers and an additional 100 volunteers (and counting) to China.

“Volunteering takes a tremendous amount of time, a tremendous amount of effort, but it’s something that David feels in his core is really important,” said Joshua E Hyman, MD.

“David is legendary for his kindness, intellect, and surgical prowess, but it is his humility and unique selflessness that separates him from so many of his peers,” wrote William N. Levine, MD, in sponsoring Dr. Roye’s nomination.

The model of a humanitarian
“David Roye influenced my decision to go into pediatric orthopaedics more than any other person,” wrote David L. Skaggs, MD. “He embodies for me the model of a humanitarian academic surgeon who contributes to the field at many levels, yet does it with no self-promotion, while maintaining a good family life.

In addition to his work with CCPF, Dr. Roye serves as the chief of pediatric orthopaedic surgery at the Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian; where he has assembled what Dr. Levine calls an “all-star division” with five pediatric orthopaedists.

Dr. Roye and his wife, Dr. Carol Roye, a nurse educator, have been honored by the Children’s Dream Foundation for their work with children in the United States. In addition, he was recently honored for his efforts as medical director of CCPF at the organization’s 10th anniversary gala.

“I believe it’s valuable for everyone to have a part of their life in which they can donate their care to those in need,” he says. “I find it so rewarding and get so much out of it. That’s why I do it. It just makes you feel good.”

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