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AAOS: Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon Receives 2017 Humanitarian Award

By American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons | March 16, 2017

David A. Spiegel, MD is honored for a life dedicated to delivering healthcare to the less fortunate around the globe.

David A. Spiegel, MD, is the recipient of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' (AAOS) 2017 Humanitarian Award. Dr. Spiegel is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania.
This Award recognizes living fellows, international, and emeritus members of the Academy who have distinguished themselves through outstanding musculoskeletal-related humanitarian activities in the United States or abroad.
Dr. Spiegel's life changed after completing his residency in 1996 while spending a month in Kathmandu, Nepal, with Dr. Ashok Banskota, the founder of the Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children (HRDC). He learned about the challenges of working in settings with limited resources, influencing his academic interests and career path. Dr. Spiegel has spent more than two years of his career in Nepal engaged in activities at the HRDC.
"Dr. Banskota was doing very complex work on challenging cases with limited resources, and I was exposed to unique insights into the natural history of pediatric orthopedic conditions and the management of uncommon conditions such as tuberculosis and polio, as well as neglected traumatic cases and infections," said Dr. Spiegel.

David A. Spiegel, M.D. (Credit: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)
Additionally, Dr. Spiegel introduced the Ponseti method for clubfoot treatment to the HRDC, and the hospital has subsequently treated more than 4,000 feet with the method. He also has done Ponseti workshops in 5 provinces of China. He has made a number of visits to Basra, Iraq since 2011, and has delivered more than 200 lectures in other countries including Somalia, China, Iran, Mongolia, India and Pakistan.
"Dr. Spiegel has accomplished extraordinary work, improving the orthopedic care in multiple underserved regions of the world," said Richard M. Schwend, MD from Children's Mercy Kansas City. "He has demonstrated prolonged dedication to those less fortunate, selflessness, sustained service without compensation and the courage to take his skills to some of the most dangerous areas on the planet."
"In all my years of working in low and middle-income countries, I have learned that the entire field of orthopedic surgery has to be adapted in a contextually relevant manner, given differences in pathology, the resources available, and the socio-cultural context in which the services are delivered-you are forced to redefine the field," said Dr. Spiegel.
Dr. Spiegel attended Duke University for college, medical school, and orthopedic surgical residency training. He then completed both a research and a clinical fellowship in pediatric orthopedics at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Dr. Spiegel has served on the advisory board of Ponseti International Organization and Miracle Feet to promote global clubfoot care; and on the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America's (POSNA) Committee on Children's Orthopaedics in Underdeveloped Regions (COUR), and currently serves on the AAOS International Committee. He worked with his colleagues at HRDC during the earthquake in Nepal in 2015. He has been an active participant with the World Health Organization's (WHO) "Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care" for more than ten years, advocating for and writing about emergency and essential surgical care and surgery as viewed through the lens of health systems.
Dr. Spiegel was previously recognized with the President's Call to Service Award by the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation in 2006, the Golden Apple Award from Health Volunteers Overseas in 2009, POSNA's Humanitarian Award in 2013, and the Walter P. Blount Humanitarian award from the Scoliosis Research Society in 2016.
"Having known and been so inspired by many of the previous recipients, I am completely flattered to receive this award," said Dr. Spiegel. "These experiences have led to considerable professional and personal growth, and I hope to spend even more time participating in activities that promote and improve the delivery of surgical care globally."
Dr. Spiegel, his wife Maryam, a pediatric cardiac intensive care physician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and their daughter Sophia live in Philadelphia. In his spare time, Dr. Spiegel plays the drums and enjoys jazz music.

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