Svyatoslav Fyodorov, an outstanding Russian ophthalmologist, businessman, and politician, died in a helicopter crash on June 3, 2000, at age 72.
As a child, Dr Fyodorov dreamed of becoming a pilot, but at age 18 he lost a foot in an accident. This event changed his goals, and Dr Fyodorov decided to devote his life to medicine. He graduated from the medical institute in Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia, and started his career in ophthalmology, which was, in his opinion, the best medical specialty.
For several years, he worked in hospitals in provincial Russian towns improving his ophthalmosurgery skills. But he was never satisfied with a routine job. His inquisitive mind and aspiration to be an innovator in ophthalmology led him to search for new surgical techniques. In 1960, Dr Fyodorov implanted an artificial crystalline lens for the first time in the Soviet Union. This was the start of his multifaceted career. His innovations in cataract surgery, operations for the treatment of glaucoma, and development and adoption of microsurgery methods established him as a leader in ophthalmology in his country. However, his rise was not an easy one because the medical establishment was not always in agreement with him on the accuracy of his methods and procedures. His methods of myopia surgery (keratotomia) brought him gratitude from his patients, but these techniques were not always approved by his colleagues. Dr Fyodorov eventually proved that he was right in working with this particular technique.
Dr Fyodorov was not only an eye surgery pioneer, but also an outstanding organizer and businessman, which was very unusual in the Soviet Union. He managed to create in Moscow the Research Institute of Eye Microsurgery, which includes a hospital, research laboratories, and places for the manufacture of artificial crystalline lens and special instruments for microsurgery. Moreover, he established many eye microsurgery clinics and hospitals in different Russian towns and cities, as well as in Italy, Poland, Germany, Spain, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates. He equipped a special ship as an ophthalmologic clinic that cruised the Mediterranean and Indian Oceans.
Fyodorov was a practicing capitalist, accepted former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev's "Perestroika," was known as a politician, created his own political party, and in 1996, ran for president of Russia.
Svyatoslav N. Fyodorov, MD, was a brilliant scientist, an energetic businessman, and an active and extraordinary person. He will be remembered as an outstanding Russian figure of the 20th century.
Babich G. Svyatoslav N. Fyodorov, MD (1927-2000). Arch Ophthalmol. 2000;118(11):1594. doi:10.1001/archopht.118.11.1594