Remembering 6 spine, orthopedic surgeons who died in 2022


Becker's has reported on six spine and orthopedic surgeons who died in 2022.

1. Champ Baker Jr., MD, died March 18. He was 75 and died from cardiac arrest. Dr. Baker was a retired surgeon from the Hughston Clinic in Columbus, Ga. and served as its president from 1994 to 2000. In 2011, he was inducted into the Chattahoochee Valley Sports of Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the hall of fame for Columbus State University and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine.

2. William Hamilton, MD, New York City Ballet's first in-house physician died at age 90. Dr. Hamilton joined New York City Ballet in 1972 as an in-house doctor. In 1980, he was hired to work as the attending surgeon for American Ballet Theater. He was known for flagging early signs of chronic, debilitating problems in dancers and kept a ballet barre in his examining room. Dr. Hamilton worked as a surgeon until he was 81 but continued to work as a consultant.

3. Former chief of neurosurgery at Pennsylvania Hospital Frederick Simeone, MD, died at age 86. Dr. Simeone worked as chief of neurosurgery at the Philadelphia-based hospital for 25 years and retired in 2008. After retirement, he launched the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum and grew his father's car collection.

4. Justin Cetas, MD, PhD, chair of neurosurgery at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, died July 13 after a motorcycle collision with a tow truck. Dr. Cetas graduated from the College of Medicine-Tucson MD-PhD program in 2002 and returned to the city in 2021 to serve as UArizona's neurosurgery chair.

5. Norman Johanson, MD, the former chief of orthopedics at Philadelphia-based Hahnemann University Hospital, died July 3 at age 72. Dr. Johnson became chair of orthopedics at the hospital in 2000 and performed thousands of surgeries and mentored hundreds of students and residents. Before joining Hahnemann University Hospital, he was a professor and program director at Temple University Lewis Katz School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

6. Orthopedic surgeon Joseph Torg, MD, died Dec. 15 at the age of 88. He was a team physician for the Philadelphia Flyers, Sixers and Eagles and was known as a "father of sports medicine." Dr. Torg's research led high school and college football groups to ban "spearing," and the number of student players who suffered paralysis dropped. Dr. Torg also popularized the Lachman test for evaluating ACL injuries.

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