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Taylor K. Smith, MD

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Embargoed for Release: February 17, 2011

For more information, contact:

Kristina Goel (847) 384-4034 (312) 388-5241 goel@aaos.org
Kayee Ip  (847) 384-4035 (312) 543-3211   ip@aaos.org

San Francisco Orthopaedic Surgeon, Taylor K. Smith, MD, Honored for 45 Years of Humanitarian Efforts

Missions of Hope and Surgical Care for the Children of
Haiti and Around the World

San Diego, Calif. — The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) presented the 2011 Humanitarian Award to Taylor K. Smith, MD, of San Francisco, Calif., during an awards ceremony at its 2011 Annual Meeting. The Humanitarian Award honors members of the Academy who have distinguished themselves through outstanding musculoskeletal-related humanitarian activities in the United States or abroad. This award also recognizes those orthopaedic surgeons who help to improve the human condition by alleviating suffering and supporting and contributing to the basic human dignity of those in need.

Dr. Smith, age 74, has been involved in humanitarian activities for the past 45 years. Having been on approximately 30 missions in the last 25 years, he has provided free orthopaedic surgical care and education to patients in underserved areas of developing countries. Since 1978, Dr. Smith has traveled to impoverished areas of the world treating disfigured children and adults. He founded the orthopaedic division of Operation Rainbow in 1990 so that he and its team of volunteers would be able to provide free orthopaedic and plastic surgical care — Dr. Smith currently continues to serve as the director of orthopaedic surgery.

A week after the devastating earthquakes shook Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010, Dr. Smith led two orthopaedic surgical teams to St. Marc, Haiti, to provide orthopaedic care and disaster relief. Additional Operation Rainbow teams provided orthopaedic surgical care on six contiguous missions in several hospitals in Port-au-Prince and near the Dominican Republic border. Their work in Haiti continues. “[Dr. Smith] traveled to Haiti as soon as he could put a team together … We take a team of 25-30 members for 7-10 days,” said colleague William L. Green, MD. “He will not turn away any patient that needs to be treated regardless of the time of day. He has been for many years an inspiration to his colleagues and especially to the fertile minds of orthopaedic residents who accompany him on these trips.”

“The key to having successful missions, whether emergent or elective, is planning for and being able to do just about anything with which you are faced and knowing your limitations,” said Dr. Smith. He encourages orthopaedic residents to gain broader surgical experience by participating in orthopaedic-related humanitarian efforts. “You will learn more about the natural history of diseases and injuries and many skills from the local orthopaedic surgeons. It is the most rewarding thing you will ever do in the practice of medicine.”

“He has remarkable talent and all those around benefit,” says Kelly D. Carmichael, MD of his colleague. “[Dr. Smith] works countless hours, never gets tired and never says ‘no’ to those in need. His leadership is responsible for dozens of other orthopaedic surgeons becoming involved in care to the third world.”

Dr. Smith’s son, Christopher K. Smith, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon and Academy fellow practicing in Houston, Texas, accompanied him on more than 15 mission trips. “I have had the opportunity to experience his unique style of compassion and hard work that inspires loyalty and commitment in other mission team members,” said Dr. Christopher Smith of his father’s tireless determination to provide orthopaedic assistance to patients in need.

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