Northwestern Medicine Surgeon Honored as Global Citizenship Hero by Red Cross

Northwestern Medicine
News April 28, 2016
Northwestern Medicine orthopaedic surgeon Samer Attar, MD.The American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois honored Northwestern Medicine orthopaedic surgeon Samer Attar, MD, as the 2016 Global Citizenship Hero at the 14th Annual Heroes Breakfast on Thursday, April 28. Dr. Attar was recognized for his volunteer efforts to provide medical care to individuals impacted by the conflict in Syria.
Through the Syrian American Medical Society and Doctors Without Borders, Dr. Attar has made several medical mission trips to field hospitals in Jordan and underground hospitals in Syria, which are in secret locations because medical facilities and workers are intentionally targeted during air strikes.
“Humanitarian efforts are failing in Syria because access to those who need help is threatened, restricted or denied,” said Dr. Attar, an orthopaedic surgeon at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

To Dr. Attar, the true heroes are the physicians in Syria who are working tirelessly everyday under extremely challenging conditions. Faced with overcrowding and not enough beds, the clinicians in these hospitals have only limited resources to save lives.  

“There are millions of innocent Syrian men, women and children who are sick, starving, displaced or injured, either from deliberate humanitarian blockades or aerial bombardment,” said Dr. Attar. “But I met a lot of good people inside Syria risking their lives to help them. You can’t save everyone, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying.”

Dr. Attar, who went on his first volunteer trip to Syria in August 2013, has used his personal experiences to draw international attention to the worsening humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country. In addition to his medical mission trips, he has spoken at the United Nations and with U.S. Senators and Congressmen, as well as published op-eds in some of the country’s top newspapers about the need for humanitarian aid in Syria.

“Dr. Attar exemplifies what it means to be a physician, using his God given talents to advocate for and serve those most in need of medical care,” said Terrance Peabody, MD, chair of the department of orthopaedic surgery at Northwestern Memorial and the Edwin Warner Ryerson professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Feinberg School of Medicine.  “He has brought attention to the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time at the expense of his own personal safety and well-being. The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and I are grateful for his example and for enhancing the reputation of Northwestern Medicine internationally.”

The Heroes Breakfast honored local people who demonstrated acts of heroism in the community in 12 categories including Global Citizenship, Law Enforcement, Community Impact and Youth.

“The American Red Cross is proud to honor extraordinary people in our community who have made a difference in the lives of others both here at home and around the world,” said Celena Roldán, Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois. “Whether they are keeping us safe on the job, or jumped in to help during a crisis, we are delighted to honor them for their bravery and service.” 

Learn more about Dr. Attar’s work in Syria and ways to help:

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