Marc A. Asher, MD
August 15, 1936 - February 1, 2019
Marc Addason Asher, M.D. died February 1, 2019 of heart failure. He was born on August 15, 1936 to St. John, KS farmer James Manley Asher and Pratt, KS native and high school mathematics teacher Lucile Turner Asher.
He graduated from Kansas State University, with a BS in '58 and Kansas University, with a MD in '62. He completed a rotating Internship at the University of Oregon and then served in the United States Public Health Service as the General Medical Officer in Leavenworth, KS. He then worked as an Assistant Resident in Surgery at Baltimore City Hospital, before completing the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Surgery Residency. His first post in Orthopedics was as an Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Residency Training Coordinator at the University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio in 1970.
In 1972 he returned to his alma mater and there he remained, rising from Assistant Professor to University Distinguished Professor in 2003, the first full-time clinician to receive this award in the school’s history. As was common among his generation of orthopedic surgeons, Dr. Asher began as a generalist, but quickly sub-specialized in pediatric orthopedics and eventually in spine deformity. He established and staffed a network of clinics across the state, bringing specialized orthopedic care to children with serious musculoskeletal conditions in the far rural areas of Kansas.
His devotion and care of his patients were legendary at the University of Kansas Hospital and Medical Center. He demanded much of the staff around him, but never as much as he demanded of himself. He set the standard for the moral and ethical treatment of patients for four decades of students, residents, fellows, and colleagues.
As his clinical practice evolved, so did his engagement with national and international orthopedic societies. He was the Editor in Chief of the First Edition of the Orthopedic Knowledge Update for the America Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. As his career veered towards pediatrics, he served on the Pediatric Orthopedic Society (later the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America (POSNA)) as a Program and Bylaws chair, member of the Board of Directors and as Treasurer. He would ultimately receive their Distinguished Achievement Award in 2004.
The Scoliosis Research Society (SRS) was the organization that he loved dearly. Its mission to foster the care of all patients with spinal deformities was co-linear with his own clinical and research interests. He served on Society committees over four decades, received the Hibbs, Moe, and Goldstein research awards, the Blount Humanitarian award and was honored to serve as the 28th president in 1997. This was a trying time for the Society as it was under attack as a defendant in the Multi-District Pedicle Screw Litigation out of Philadelphia. His steady hand and leadership were critical as the Society weathered this storm. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from SRS in 2009.
While Dr. Asher was still in San Antonio in 1971, he met Paul Harrington. This introduction, and their subsequent relationship, would remain a guiding influence on his career. Harrington, a native of Kansas City and a University of Kansas graduate, would visit his sister in Kansas City every summer and he and Dr. Asher would spend time together discussing scoliosis, spine instrumentation and spinal research until Harrington’s death in 1980. This relationship certainly guided him as he led a team of colleagues to develop the Isola Spinal Instrumentation System. Available from 1989 to 2011, it was, at one time, one of the world’s leading spine implant systems.
The Harrington influence did not end there. Dr. Harrington willed his archives to the Clendening Library at the University of Kansas Department of the History and Philosophy of Medicine. Dr. Asher, with the aid of the Library archivists, collated and chronicled Harrington’s achievements in a moving display that has now been visited by hundreds of visitors from all over the world. In fact, the ultimate approval by the FDA for the use of pedicle screws resulted, in no small part, from the review of drawings of pedicle screws Dr. Harrington made in the late 1960’s, found in the Archives. Ultimately, Dr. Asher’s passion to honor the genius of Harrington, led him to publish his biography in 2015, “Dogged Persistence: Harrington, Post-polio Scoliosis, and the Origin of Spine Instrumentation”.
Dr. Asher published nearly 200 scientific articles and gave over 80 invited lectures on six continents. He was the Kansas University Medical Alumnus of the Year, Life Trustee of the Kansas University Endowment Association and the Distinguished Kansan of the Year in 2008. However most who worked with him knew none of this, his humility kept these accolades from nearly everyone around him. Those of us who did know him, who learned from him, worked with him and grew because of him are all so grateful for that opportunity. Our hearts go out to his wife Ellie, his daughter Janet, and to all his family for their loss. Marc Asher will be dearly missed by all who knew him.
Written by Douglas C. Burton, MD
Yves Cotrel, MD
April 27, 1925 - January 29, 2019
Yves Cotrel was, and will remain an exceptional man. Exceptional within orthopaedics and his name will be linked forever to the spine, an essential organ of the human body. Exceptional for his ingenuity, his investigative skills and his permanent wish to help the patients and their families, always looking to find a logical and practical approach of their pathologies, and treatments. His patients remained dedicated to him throughout his life. Exceptional in the faith from which his feelings were guided, to transmit them to all those living around him, the human values he had acquired. This was well seen in the fidelity of his commitments towards his patients, pupils, disciples, and colleagues around the world.
Exceptional also for being the head of a large family, with his wife Mary Lou, personally, delightfully and graciously, demonstrated the fundamental importance of family cohesion, with a constant and active involvement still existing today. Exceptional thanks to his organizational and communicative spirit for the entire community. This was considered a priority for Yves.
He was always laughing, telling us that if his professional route was quite tortuous. It was normal because in the Greek language the word tortuous is “skoliosis”! We must remember that he intended to become an obstetrician, but unpredictable circumstances drove him in 1948 to the Calot Institute in Berck Plage where he spent the whole professional career of his ”first life” as he said to me one day with a smile!
It is there, in a 600 bed institution he discovered the world of bone and joints and spinal deformities, especially coming from tuberculosis (TB) and other etiologies. Their treatments were mainly casting using the Abbott technique and the turnbuckle distraction Donaldson/Stagnara cast. His medical thesis in 1950 was about the treatment of bone and joint TB with streptomycin. He learned the surgical principles and did posterior approach and fusion of the spine thanks to his mentor Jean Cauchoix, Chief Surgeon of the Institute using at that time only lamina decortication and iliac graft. In 1954 the technique used a long tibial strut graft inserted between the spinous processes of the proximal and distal end vertebra on the concave side of the curve which was already decorticated. The procedure was performed inside the cast. Then a very important event occurred in his life: in 1958 Yves was selected to obtain a grant to go to the USA for six months where he visited numerous major centers dealing with spinal deformities and learned many new concepts. During this time he established many friendships that persisted throughout his life.
Returning to France, his spirit of invention was well established: successively he developed a clever modification of the Abbott frame in 1959, the EDF (Elongation, Derotation, Flexion) frame named in our country as Calot but most commonly known as the Cotrel frame for spine, and described the precise technique for the reduction of the scoliotic curves with casts and straps. Then, in 1964, the first posterior surgery was performed out of the cast with peri-operative traction thanks to the operative frame he developed. Simultaneously, special hooks were built with the superior hook located on the facet and the inferior hook over the lamina in order to fit and stabilize the ends of the tibial graft inserted after removal of the dynamometric distraction device used to prepare the graft bed. At the same time a multiple tranversotomy of the convex side was performed to correct the rib hump thanks to a balloon located inside the post- operative cast. In 1968 a pre-operative auto elongation system was used during 15 days before surgery, and eventfully used at night as a non-operative treatment for mild curves. The Harrington instrumentation arrived in France in 1966 and was progressively adopted by Yves who designed a quasi-systematic, transverse loading device named DTT (Dispositif de Traction Transversale) at the apical convex region in order to improve the stability of the construct. These devices were built thanks to a small company located in Berck Plage under the control of Yves from 1959 to 1973 where two members of the Cotrel family decided to acquire and manage it. This occasion marked the appearance of Yves Cotrel's industrial spirit and his first patents.
This will become essential for his “second life,“ as he said to me smiling. He left the Calot Institute because of very severe health problems at 50 years of age. Fortunately, he overcame this thanks to his strong determination.
Effectively, his spirit of invention continued in his quiet home in the French Brittany where he retired from Berck Plage. This was supported by his good friends in the USA and the efficacy of his faithful company in Berck Plage. He pushed himself to try to improve the treatments in order to suppress the need for post-operative cast. This drove him toward the development of a, meticulously controlled, every day spine construct instrumentation that he called “Universal”. This was introduced in Dec 1982/Jan 1983, for children, adolescents and then with Michel Guillaumat for the adults. We have continued to contribute to define the technique, the strategies and their applications.
Yves Cotrel was confident with us, and we with him. This instrumentation has revolutionized the surgery of scoliosis deformity on one hand, but also has impacted the entire specialty of spinal deformity surgery. Many of the modern instrumentations are more or less derived from this instrumentation philosophy and principles. With his kind loyalty Yves decided to call this new instrumentation CD (Cotrel Dubousset), the initials of our two names.
Yves Cotrel clearly demonstrated his industrial genius creating and expanding the Sofamor Company in 1984, thanks to his sons, particularly Philippe and his friends, each one competent in their own fields. The company grew quickly at the national and international level, associated first with Danek in 1993, and Medtronic in 1999.
It is thanks to his untiring efforts, direct exchanges, many trips all over the world, many meetings in France and internationally, that the inborn gift of Yves Cotrel for communication appear. One example was the GICD (Groupe International Cotrel Dubousset). These meetings were held all over the world and very well received with practical workshops, brain tests, and this especially because some didactic booklets were developed not only to teach the technical points but also to express the experience of each for the benefit of all. Effectively the CD instrumentation not properly used could be dangerous and a time of practical learning was mandatory in the mind of Yves. We must not forget the essential role of Yves Cotrel in the foundation of the GES (French Groupe d’ Etude de la Scoliose), three years after the similar one created in USA (Scoliosis Research Society). This occurred mostly thanks to the meeting of Yves with Christian Salanova from Toulouse, both coming back from the 3rd SRS meeting. Subsequently the first meeting of the GES was held at the Calot Institute of Berck Plage in 1969 under the presidency of Yves Cotrel, of course. The GES in our country is the true melting pot of the pathologies and treatments of the spinal deformities where orthopaedic surgeons devoted to spine surgery, physicians, physiotherapist, brace makers, etc. meet together and exchange two or three times a year, still continue to this day inside the SFCR (French Society of Surgery of the Spine) for the benefit of all of us and our patients. And now what do we have to say about the decision of Yves Cotrel in 1999, with the approval of his entire family, to devote a very significant part of his personal fortune to create at the Institut de France, the Yves Cotrel Foundation with the assigned mission to elucidate through basic fundamental research the etiology and pathogeny of the still mysterious idiopathic scoliosis. Many researchers coming from all over the world, getting grants from the Foundation and participating in a climate of reciprocal confidence. What such altruism did we find there! Finally we can give to this exceptional person in the spirit of friendship and fraternity that he transmitted so well a tremendous - thank you.
Written by Jean Dubousset, MD and Michel Guillaumat.
Donald A. Deinlein, Sr., MD
September 9, 1937 - January 6, 2019
Dr. Donald Anthony Deinlein, MD died suddenly on January 6, 2019 in California while preparing to watch his University of Alabama football team compete in the national championship game. He was born on September 9,1937 in Baltimore, MD to Anthony and Marie McQuaid Deinlein.
Don attended Loyola University (Baltimore) where he was awarded the Mohler Trophy as the leading Scholar-Athlete. After deciding against a professional baseball career he earned his medical degree at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. After his internship he served his country as a flight surgeon in the United States Navy. He then completed his Orthopaedic Surgery training at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Don was in private practice in Birmingham for the next 32 years during which time he became the Chief of Orthopaedics at Baptist Montclair Hospital and Trinity Medical Center. He was deeply involved in statewide children's orthopaedic clinics. In 2007, he joined the faculty at the University of Alabama in Birmingham where he truly enjoyed mentoring residents and fellows in Orthopaedic Surgery (Spine). During his career he was a member of local, regional, and national orthopaedic societies, often serving in a leadership role.
Don had passions outside of orthopaedics including golf, flying his plane, playing the drums and following the University of Alabama Football team. He could often be heard saying "Roll Tide".
Don is survived by his wonderful wife of 58 years, Phyllis; son Donald Anthony (Ellan) Deinlein, Jr.; daughters Mary Lauren (Bob Reitsma) Deinlein, and Kristen Marie Deinlein and his four grandchildren of whom he was especially proud.
Don will be remembered as a true gentleman and a kind and caring doctor who was compassionate about his profession and patients to the end.
Services were held on January 26, 2019 in Birmingham, Alabama. The family has asked that if one wishes, donations can be made to Saint Francis School, Children's Hospital of Alabama or a humanitarian charity of one's choice.
Michael F. Schafer, MD
August 17, 1942 - October 17, 2018
To read Dr. Schafer's full obituary, please click here.
Luther M. Strayer, III, MD
December 21, 1934 - December 27, 2018
To read Dr. Strayer's full obituary, please click here.
Keith D. VandenBrink, MD
July 8, 1935 - February 26, 2019
Dr. Keith VandenBrink, 83, of Roan Mountain Tennessee, passed away surrounded by his three children, on February 26, 2019 at the Johnson City Medical Center in Johnson City, TN. He was the son of the late Gerrit and Henrietta VandenBrink, born to them on July 8, 1935 in Coon Rapids, Iowa. He is survived by his loving children: Greta Elmore, of Salisbury, NC; Eric VandenBrink of Plymouth, MN; and Kyle VandenBrink of Lake Mary, FL as well as three grandchildren. His dear wife, Charlene, had pre-deceased him in 2006.
Following his graduation from medical school at the University of Iowa, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy serving as a physician for the U.S. Marine Corps. His residency in orthopedics was completed at the Campbell Clinic in Memphis following which he stayed on staff there for a few years. Subsequently, he was appointed Medical Director of Gillette Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, MN and later became Assistant Chief of Staff at the Twin Cities Shriners Hospital. He completed his pediatric orthopedic career as Assistant Chief of Staff at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Lexington, Kentucky.
His dream for retirement was to be in the mountains in a log cabin with enough acreage to plant, work the ground, and for a workshop. He found such a location on Buck Mountain at an altitude of 3800 feet consisting of 11 acres with a perfect view of Roan Mountain (altitude over 6000 ft.). He proceeded to clear the land, and to build the biggest log cabin I have ever seen with a walkway to an adjacent log building of 3000 square feet housing his farming equipment, pick-up truck and woodworking shop. He supervised all of this during his final year and a half at the Lexington hospital, traveling to Roan Mountain on weekends. He and Charlene retired to their dream home in 1999. Having been born a farm boy, he was easily assimilated into the Appalachian community of mountain people. Charlene found her interests more aligned with the North Carolina towns of Newland and Banner Elk each about 20 minutes away. There, she was an active member of the ladies garden club and made many friends in the arts and crafts community doing volunteer work until her untimely death in May 2006.
I first met Keith in the early 1970’s at a conference on the care of children with spina bifida where we shared our experience with and advocacy for multidisciplinary coordinated care for these patients. Subsequently our paths crossed many times while working with SRS, POSNA, AAOS and finally with Shriners Hospitals for Children. However it was only later in 2008 when Mary and I began visiting the mountains annually during the summer, eventually buying a home in Banner Elk, NC, that we became close and I finally was able to take the true measure of the man.
I had known him as a dedicated physician and extremely competent surgeon and educator of residents who was well liked and respected by all who knew him. I now found him the most loved and popular man in the town of Roan Mountain, population 1400. He was known by everyone as “Doc”. Not only did he give sound medical advice and make shrewd diagnoses and appropriate referrals but he could opine on almost any subject, especially agricultural and mechanical. He held forth at daily breakfasts with a sundry group of old- timers and moonshiners, many of whom I met, and they absolutely loved him and he in return. It became apparent to me that he was a man who was truly “very comfortable in his own skin”, able to converse with every person he met regardless of educational or social status.
Keith became a master woodworker, building many furniture items for his cabin. His 1500 square foot workshop had enough wood chips and sawdust on the floor and shelves to fill a dump truck. He got me interested in woodworking and taught me how to use many power tools.
He also remained active as a Shriner, continuing to support the Lexington Shriners Hospital by holding out patient clinics in Chattanooga, and the tri-cities area as well as periodic visits to the hospital in Lexington.
Over the past 10 years we have shared many cocktails, meals, stories and memories of our idols in orthopedics, usually on the “aft deck” of our Banner Elk home. Like others our age we looked back on the good old days of the practice of medicine and deplored the current state of affairs. He became my dearest and closest friend. Like all who knew him well, I will miss him dearly.
Written by Newton C. McCollough, III, MD