In Memoriam: David Segal (1937-2023)

By OTA Community posted 02-08-2023 12:31


It is with extreme sadness, that we inform the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (OTA) that Dr. David Segal passed away on January 16, 2023, following a courageous struggle with cancer.

Dr. Segal was one of the founding members of the Orthopaedic Trauma Association.

David was born on May 22, 1937, in Romania. As a child, together with his family, he survived the Holocaust in Europe; immigrating to Israel after the war.   

David studied medicine at the Hebrew University – Hadassah Faculty of Medicine, following which he served as a physician in the Israel Defense Forces. His diverse orthopaedic career spanned the world between the US and Israel. David started his residency in surgery at Beit Israel Hospital in Boston, followed by an orthopaedic residency at Lahey Clinic at Tufts University. In 1970, he returned to Israel and served as Deputy Orthopaedic Department Chairman to Professor Anatol Axer at Assaf Harofeh Hospital. In 1975 he returned to Boston, where he first served as Deputy Chairman of the Orthopaedic Department at Boston University Hospital, after which he was appointed Chairman of the Department, a post that he held for over a decade.  

During his illustrious career, he was instrumental in founding the Orthopaedic Trauma Association. What started as a small talk conversation between three colleagues over lunch in January 1977, turned into the Orthopaedic Trauma Association, a world-renowned professional organization.

Ramon Gustilo, Edwin G. Bovill, and Michael Chapman discussed the problems of working as full-time academic traumatologists in a city hospital environment. They felt the unique challenge of making an underfunded city hospital work while meeting teaching responsibilities had unique problems. As a result, a loose association of university-affiliated city-county hospital trauma association was formed, later becoming the Orthopaedic Trauma Center Study Group. The first-member hospitals included: J. Paul Harvey, Edwin G. Bovill, Sigvard (Ted) Hanson, Jr., Renner Johnston, Arsen Pankovich, and David Segal. The title "The Orthopaedic Trauma Association" was officially adopted in 1985.

David Segal was an active member of this process and, with his colleagues, revolutionized the primary orthopaedic care of trauma patients. Early fracture surgical stabilization concepts were popularized, including difficult fractures previously treated nonoperatively, such as pelvic fractures. Gradually the OTA became the leading worldwide trauma organization creating professional classifications and guidelines.  

In 1987, Dr. Segal came full circle when he returned to Jerusalem and became the Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedics at the Hadassah University Hospital. Under his leadership, guidance and supervision, the Department became the largest in the country, leading in patient care and research. 

David Segal brought modern trauma care and many new orthopaedic surgical procedures to Israel. He was an extremely brave, skilled and knowledgeable surgeon. David devoted his life to patient care and educating many orthopaedic residents. In addition, he was an academic surgeon who understood the importance of academic medicine – teaching his team the importance of research and education. In honor of his significant contribution to orthopaedic practice, he was awarded honorary membership in the Israel Orthopaedic Association.  

David was devoted to his family – his wife Judy, who stood by his side for almost 60 years, three children and nine grandchildren. He is already greatly missed by his family, friends, colleagues, collaborators and students who span the globe.

Iri Liebergall
Rami Mosheiff
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Hadassah University Medical Center