March 2021


Aroldo Carlos Legarreta, MD
December 1, 1955 - January 21, 2021

A renowned and highly respected spine surgeon from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dr. Aroldo Carlos Legarreta, passed at the age of 64 after having battled  COVID-19. This is a truly devastating loss from the 2020 pandemic. He was a great leader and surgeon. Extremely generous, universally loved and gregarious, he was one of the people one would most look forward to run into at scientific meetings all over the world. During his time in practice for more than 25 years, he specialized in pediatric spinal deformity surgery and served as section chief at the Ricardo Gutiérrez Children's Hospital and a spine consultant at Sanatoria Mater Dei. Carlos was a husband to Dr. Maria Nelly Escalada, another fine spine surgeon, and father to Santiago, Maria Paula and Maria Florencia. Carlos was held in high regard in Latin America, and member of the Argentine Society of Pathology of the Vertebral Column where he served as the President from 2007-2008. He was also a proud and active member of North American Spine Society and Scoliosis Research Society. His contributions through treating countless children with spinal deformity and training a legion of South American spine surgeons will never be forgotten.

Michael Francis O'Brien, MD
June 14, 1954 - December 18, 2020

Dr. O'Brien passed away on December 18, 2020. He was born on June 14, 1954 in Hartford Connecticut.

After graduating from Columbia University, Dr. O’Brien completed his medical school and residency at State University of New York at Downstate Brooklyn. He then went on to complete a spine fellowship with Keith Bridwell, MD at Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis Missouri as well as an international spine fellowship with Alan Crockard, FRCS at National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, England and a subsequent Scoliosis Research Society traveling fellowship in 1997.

Dr. O'Brien was passionate about complex pediatric and adult spinal deformity and was extremely active in publication, study group participation, teaching and implant development throughout his remarkable career. His colleagues observed his willingness and excitement to treat patients with complex cases other surgeons often shied away from. Dr. O’Brien’s patients traveled the globe seeking his medical help and left his care knowing his indelibly genuine compassion. In 2006 he founded the Spine Deformity Team, a medical mission in Managua, Nicaragua where he donated his skill and steady hands to improve the lives of those less fortunate. His life exemplified curiosity, creativity, pursuit of perfection and an insatiable restless desire to learn and explore. His zeal for life was evident outside the OR as well, with a love of music, socializing, humor and boundless generosity. He embodied the ideal that anything is possible when you put your mind to it and that the gifts that each of us are graced with are meant to be shared with others.

Michael is survived by his beloved children, Kalin, Connor and Eryrnn, his former wife Leonor Montalvo O’Brien, his wife Heather Bell O’Brien, his parents Elinor and Lawrence O’Brien and his five siblings, Ann Marie O’Brien, Maurenn Fallon, Timothy O’Brien, Patricia Scott, John O’Brien as well as many cousins, nephews, and nieces who loved time spent with him.

Video Memorial Project

The Southwest Scoliosis Institute is asking family, friends and colleagues to share or record videos for a video montage that captures the memories of Dr. Michael O'Brien.

You may record as many videos as you like at the link below. Please be as creative as you would like. If you do not want to be on camera, consider holding a photo of you and Dr. O’Brien or an object that reminds you of him in front of the camera while sharing your thoughts. You can read a letter you've written while holding the camera over the letter. You can play a song that reminds you of him. Get creative to remember the wonderful life of Dr. Mike O’Brien.

  • Link to record video
  • Due date to participate: April 10, 2021

Contact Brittany Banks for more information.

Seymour "Zeke" Zimbler, MD
April 18, 1934 - February 14, 2021

Seymour “Zeke” Zimbler sadly passed away unexpectedly at home on Feb. 14. His resume is a string of superlatives, many unknown because Zeke, humble to a fault, would never mention them. Renamed “Zeke” by a baseball coach who thought it more appropriate than Seymour for a quick handed infielder, he was valedictorian of his high school class and a New Jersey all-state basketball star. Recruited to play at Columbia University he chose the University of Michigan for timing issues. Forced to quit the team when his premed laboratories conflicted with practice, Zeke completed the required studies in 2.5 years, entered medical school at SUNY Upstate Medical Center and graduated AOA. At Syracuse, he met and married Enid, with whom he shared his life. They would have three children: Brian, Andrew, and Taffy. He trained in the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Program where he was Chief Resident at Boston Children’s Hospital. As a Lieutenant Commander at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Charleston, SC, he was dispatched with a marine unit to the Dominican Republic during civil war and was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. Upon return to Boston he was appointed Orthopaedic Surgeon-in-Chief at the Beth Israel Hospital; during his stewardship the department began its affiliation with the Harvard Medical School. In 1970 he was recruited by Dr. Henry Banks to start a pediatric orthopaedic service at Tufts New England Medical Center; he single handedly created a large academic department which included 5 full time pediatric orthopaedists. He was promoted to Clinical Professor and served as Acting Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery. He later moved to the Massachusetts General Hospital and then ended his career where it began — Boston Children’s Hospital.

Zeke authored numerous publications and delivered many national and international presentations, but his main commitments were to patient care and student and resident education. His kindness, integrity and dedication were legendary. There was no limit to the efforts he would make to insure the best possible care for his patients. Midnight rounds with a flashlight to check circulation, Sunday cast changes and overnight nursing duties when the scheduled nurse failed to appear are some of the endless examples. He was absolutely dedicated to teaching which he did at all hours in a kind and patient manner. All understood he was on their side, and essentially all his trainees will claim he was their most important, inspirational and beloved role model and mentor. For colleagues there was always sage advice. Sitting next to him at a national meeting was a treat; he provided instantaneous, astute analysis and often the “real story” behind the research. The Seymour Zimbler Traveling fellowship was endowed by his many devoted former patients, students and colleagues.

When sharing Zeke stories, patients, trainees, and colleagues who think they had a special relationship with this wonderful, gentle man are bemused to discover that everyone else feels the same. He was a unique, caring individual. Those privileged to have known Zeke will miss him, and will always remember him. We send condolences to his family and thank them for sharing him with us.

Respectfully submitted,
Lawrence Karlin