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Special Article
November 1, 2005

West African College of Surgeons Bids Farewell to Claude H. Organ, Jr, MD, MS(Surg), FACS, FRCSSA, FRACS, FRCS(Ed), FWACS(Hon)

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Wright State University School of Medicine, Dayton, Ohio; and Chief, Surgical Service, Dayton VA Medical Center, Dayton.

Arch Surg. 2005;140(11):1038-1039. doi:10.1001/archsurg.140.11.1038

Lives of great men all remind us, We can make our lives sublime; And departing leave behind us, Footprints on the sand of time

A Psalm of Life

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The death of Dr Claude H. Organ, Jr, has left a gigantic footprint on the sand of the surgical world that is too big for many of us to step into. He was a distinguished and renowned African American surgeon who was well known and respected for his humanitarian work all over the world. Dr Organ first came into the West African surgical arena early in 2001 when he was nominated for an honorary fellowship of the West African College of Surgeons (WACS). Prior to that, Dr Organ had been working on building the “bridge of international collegiality” between surgeons in West Africa and our sister colleges in the United States, especially with the Society of Black Academic Surgeons and the American College of Surgeons.

On January 28, 2003, the WACS conferred Dr Claude Organ with an honorary fellowship during its 43rd Annual Scientific Conference in Abuja, Nigeria, in recognition of his love for Africa, his basic character, and his academic and professional contributions to the development of the science and art of surgery in black Africa. Fellows and members of the governing council of the WACS were also cognizant of his contributions to medical education and certification; his love for the West African surgical personality; and his commitment to merit, equity, and justice. It was heartwarming to fellows of the WACS to see that Dr Organ came to Nigeria to accept the award in person and to deliver a lecture on the myths surrounding the death of Dr Charles Drew.

Dr Organ was a loyal and devoted friend of his students, residents, and colleagues. He was an extremely pleasant person who combined a charming disposition with an exemplary character. He exemplified a consummate passion for the welfare of his fellow human being. He was a good friend of the WACS, and he helped in training several medical students and residents from the west African subregion. He was a true and genuine human being, lover of all and father to many. Dr Organ was a soft-spoken gentleman who did not like to ruffle feathers. He said what he believed in and believed in what he said. He was unshakable, yet flexible. You always knew where he stood, and he was not ambiguous. He was a man of few words. Dr Organ had planned to attend the 46th Annual Scientific Conference of the WACS in Accra, Ghana, in February 2006, but this was not to be, because his illustrious journey on earth ended on Saturday, June 18, 2005.

Dr Organ was a beacon of hope for the hopeless and an outstanding role model to all of us. He led by example and governed by consensus. He was a man of humility, respect, honor, and integrity both in his professional and private lives. Indeed, his selfless service to his fellow men and to fellows of the WACS will never be forgotten. Dr Organ will always be remembered by all his friends, colleagues, residents, and students as a man of truth, fairness, and discipline and as a man who dedicated his life to the service of humanity. But the time has come to give him back to the Dear Lord who gave him to us.

The president, members of the governing council, and fellows of the WACS say adieu to a great friend, teacher, and colleague. May his good work on earth precede him to paradise and ensure his welcome to the bosom of the Almighty Lord.

Correspondence: Samuel A. Adebonojo, MD, FCCP, FWACS, Wright State University School of Medicine, 4100 W Third St, Dayton, OH 45428 (samuel.adebonojo@wright.edu).

Accepted for Publication: August 25, 2005.