Tributes to world renowned neurosurgeon who died after contracting coronavirus

31 March 2020, 15:22

Dr James T Goodrich was known for his work saving children with complex neurological conditions
Dr James T Goodrich was known for his work saving children with complex neurological conditions. Picture: Montefiore Health System
Rachael Kennedy

By Rachael Kennedy

Tributes have been flooding onto social media to an "outstanding" world-renowned neurosurgeon who has died after contracting Covid-19.

James T Goodrich, who was known for his pioneering surgery to separate twins joined at the brain and skull, died on Monday "from complications associated with Covid-19", his employer said.

He leaves behind his wife and three sisters.

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The 73-year-old Vietnam war veteran, from Oregon, had worked at the Montefiore Centre for more than three decades, where he was the director of the division of paediatric neurosurgery at Montefiore, and professor of clinical neurological surgery, paediatrics, plastic and reconstructive surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

In 2016, Dr Goodrich famously separated conjoined twins Jadon and Anias McDonald during a 27-hour surgery backed by a 40-strong team, and soon became the leading figure for the procedure.

Montefiore Centre said the doctor was a "humble and truly caring man", and recalled him baking festive cookies each year and delivering them to nurses at the children's hospital.

"Dr Goodrich was a beacon of our institution and he will be truly missed," said Montefiore Medicine chief executive Dr Philip O Ozuah.

He added: "His expertise and ability were second only to his kind heart and manner.

"Dr Goodrich was admired by his Montefiore Einstein colleagues and adored by his patients and Montefiore Einstein will not be the same without his presence."

Meanwhile, Emad Eskandar, professor and chair of the department of neurosurgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Centre, said his colleague was "the heart and soul" of the department.

He was "a master surgeon, a world-class educator, and a beloved colleague for all.

"His sudden loss is heart-breaking and his memory will always remain foremost in our thoughts.

"Our sympathy and prayers go to his wife Judy, and all those who were close to him."

On Twitter, Dr Deepak Gupta, professor of neurosurgery at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), recalled Dr Goodrich being a "big pillar of support" as he carried out the separation of conjoined twins Jaga and Balia in 2017.

Another former colleague, Robert M Starke, said his first case in neurosurgery was with Dr Goodrich.

READ MORE: US coronavirus doctors 'told to wear trash bags' as safety supplies run low

He added: "He was one of the reasons I went into neurosurgery. An exceptional surgeon, doctor and person.

"I saw him treat everyone with respect. Tremendous loss."

READ MORE: Doctor who survived Ebola reveals just how afraid he is of coronavirus

Dr Sanjay Gupta, a staff neurosurgeon and CNN correspondent, said of his former colleague: "There wil be too many cruel and unfair stories like this one.

"Covid-19 doesn't discriminate based on what you do or who you are...in this case...robbing the life of someone who had saved so many...my friend and fellow neurosurgeon Dr James Goodrich.

"Please rest in peace."

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