Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Colin McCord: cardiac surgeon who found his calling in global public health

  1. Joanne Silberner
  1. Bainbridge Island, WA, USA
  1. @jsilberner

Colin McCord, who has died at the age of 94, led many lives. He was a cardiac surgeon at a leading research hospital in New York City when bypass surgeries and valve replacements were new—and news. Then he turned to global health, living in the global south and working on research and training projects. He went back to the US to do cardiac surgery in a public hospital, and co-wrote an influential paper alerting the world to the poor health of minorities in inner cities. In his capstone career as an assistant commissioner of health in New York City, McCord had a key role in ending smoking in restaurants and limiting trans fats in processed foods.

Friend and colleague Harold Freeman, formerly the head of surgery at Harlem Hospital in New York, said McCord didn’t do any of this as a way of being remembered. “He was just trying to do what he knew was right,” he says. “He was a very aware individual who was driven by things far deeper than the skills he had as surgeon.” McCord, though driven, was at heart a mild mannered man, Freeman says.

Early life and career

Widely known …

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