Dr. Freddie Fu Was An Inspiration for Us All

Everyone in Pittsburgh has a Freddie Fu story, including my oldest daughter.
Drfu Knee Jan22


Everyone in Pittsburgh seems to have a Freddie Fu story, as Cristina Rouvalis points out in her moving profile of Pittsburgh Magazine’s Pittsburgher of the Year.

Many in the city were stunned when they learned of the all-to-early death of the pioneering orthopaedic surgeon on Sept. 24 at age 70 of an aggressive melanoma. Tributes and stories poured in about his intense passion for medicine, his family and, in particular, his love for Pittsburgh.

I have a story, too.

When my oldest daughter was a student at Allderdice High School, she and her classmates explored potential careers as the focus of their senior projects; the teachers encouraged everyone to get real-world exposure by shadowing folks in the field. Alex was interested in medicine and shadowed a surgeon and a pediatric pulmonologist at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

She was looking for one more doctor to talk with.

It was well known among local journalists that Dr. Fu loved to talk about his research — so much so that it sometimes sounded like he was taking a reporter’s call from the operating room.

I suggested she email Dr. Fu to see if he had a few moments to talk.

She did, and the next day she received a polite response from one of his assistants who thanked her for her interest but said that Dr. Fu was much too busy to meet with a student.

We knew it was a long shot and didn’t think much more about it.

About two weeks later, an email arrived in Alex’s mailbox. It was from Dr. Fu himself, inviting her down to his office in Oakland the next afternoon. He spent more than an hour with her, talking about his double-bundled surgery techniques to repair ACL injuries and other orthopaedic procedures. She left with an armful of studies and medical materials.

Pghmag Virginial Dsc 3971rAlex didn’t pursue orthopaedics, but she is a third-year medical resident in adult and pediatric medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She remembers Dr. Fu’s unbridled enthusiasm for medicine, which further inspired her interest in the field.

Dr. Fu was a true gift to Pittsburgh, one who should inspire us all.

Virginia Linn can be reached at vlinn@pittsburghmagazine.com.

Categories: Editor