M. Samuel Noordhoff, M.D.
1927 - 2018
A Surgeon With "Love Makes Whole"
M. Samuel Noordhoff, MD, the founder of one of the internationally renowned Plastic Surgery Department at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, passed away in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Dec. 3, 2018 at the age of 91. The greatness of the man is evident through his achievements in revolutionizing healthcare delivery in Taiwan, his visionary leadership with creating his world-class disciples, charity and humanitarian works with full of love and wisdom. As his disciples we are honored to shed his light to everyone and every place on his great legends.
Background And Early Life
Dr. Noordhoff was born in Orange City, Iowa, in 1927, the only child of Henry and Cynthia Noordhoff. He studied medicine and graduated from University of Iowa. He married Lucille in 1954. After completing general surgery residency training, Dr. Noordhoff and his family were deeply influenced by Jesus's Love and firmly moved to Taiwan in 1959 to serve as a doctor and missionary (The Reformed Church in America) at Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taipei. After seeing a lot of lip and palate deformity patients in Taiwan, he decided to go back to the US for two years of plastic surgery residency training in Butterworth Hospital, Grand Rapids, to become a plastic surgeon. He then spent the rest of his 40-year career transforming lives and creating unforgettable legends in Taiwan until he returned to US in 1999.
Revolutionizing Medicine in Taiwan
Dr. Noordhoff served as the President of the Mackay Memorial Hospital first, and then (First) President of Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, played an instrumental role in establishing a system for delivery of western medicine for all of Taiwan and achieved many milestones along the way including establishing the first polio rehabilitation center, the first suicide prevention center, the first burn center, the first intensive care unit and the first craniofacial center.
Dr. Noordhoff was an eminent expert in cleft lip and palate surgeries. He dedicated his entire career to restoring hope, bringing smiles to deformed faces, and cultivating future leaders in all the major fields of plastic surgery. His contribution to professional education was recognized in the form of Jacques W. Maliniac Lecturer during the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. His lecture was titled: “Plastic Surgery in Taiwan; Building A Cathedral”, in which he attributed all achievements to God and emphasized every piece of wood or brick was carefully selected to build the house for God.
For his career-long academic contribution to the art and science of plastic surgery, Dr. Noordhoff was awarded the Prestigious Sir Harold Gilles Lecture Award by the British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons in 2011. Dr. Noordhoff received numerous other special honors, including Outstanding Medical Contribution Award by the Department of Health, Executive Yuan, Taiwan 1996, the “Order of Brilliant Star with Violet Grand Cordon” by the former president Lee Teng-Hui, Taiwan in 1999, the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgery Honorary Award in 2006, Smile Train Distinguished Excellence in Medical Service Award in 2013, and the Presidential Cultural Award from Taiwan in recognition of his humanitarian work in 2017.
Visionary Academic Leadership
Dr. Noordhoff was a man of dignity and character of wisdom. Under the environment of rapid industrialization taking place in Taiwan, and the ambition of Chang Gung Medicine Board Chairman Mr. YC Wang with his great philosophy of “Once performing, it should be the best". He gave due credits to his associates and disciples, and consistently acknowledged them. He cultivated future leaders in all major fields of plastic surgery in building a world-class academic medical center since late 1970’s and early 1980’s. He had the vision to identify those aspired young surgeons and sent them to the best places globally to learn and prepare for developing all sub-specialized fields in plastic and reconstructive surgery, especially those emerging ones such as craniofacial surgery, reconstructive microsurgery, burn and trauma surgery, so that, his center could become a new level of excellence. Dr. Noordhoff did not stop there, but continued to demand academic excellence from his staff by having strong international presences. He kept on pushing until they have achieved the prestigious status. This comprehension became ingredient in everyone's heart to pass it into their own disciples to continue this excellence.
Charity & Humanitarianism
The Noordhoff Craniofial Foundation (NCF), was founded in Taiwan in 1989, by 100 thousands US dollars donation out of his own hard-earned life savings. The aim was to help unaffordable patients in Taiwan chances to live normal with dignity. As the Taiwan government healthcare started to cover congenital deformities, the NCF gradually shifted its function towards domestic patients and parents education as well as training foreign surgeons and their surgical team including nurses, anesthesiologists, social workers, speech pathologists, and orthodontists aim to duplicate what has been achieved in Chang Gung and Taiwan in those less lucky countries. So far The NCF has trained 158 seed craniofacial medical practitioners from 19 countries including Vietnam, Kenya, Nigeria, Cambodia, the Philippines, China, Myanmar, the Dominican Republic, Laos, Indonesia and Mongolia. His humanitarian work “Love Makes Whole” had completed 78 cleft missions, brought smiling faces back to literally more than 2,000 children. After returning to US in 1999, Dr. Noordhoff still continued his involvement in charity work by raising funds, supporting training of surgeons logistically and financially, and overseeing the overall treatment of patients.
Dr. Noordhoff has gone. It breaks our hearts to say goodbye to him. Words fall short to express our sorrows for losing him, but we are consoled that he has made the world a better place than it was before through his love and wisdom. Rest in peace Dr. Noordhoff, your legacy will go on.
Fu-Chan Wei M.D.