Dr. Ray Woo Has Huge ‘Servant’s Heart’
By Maria Sonnenberg, Space Coast Medicine // October 16, 2012
2012 CENTRAL FLORIDA HUMANITARIAN
‘You Gotta Believe In The Call To Serve And Have A Servant’s Heart’
Dr. Raymund Woo’s parents and professional mentors instilled in him the premise that with the investment in a professional career comes the responsibility to apply acquired skill and training to “pay it forward” by volunteering talent, time and in some cases treasure to improving the lives of those who are less fortunate.
Growing up in a small town in Michigan where his family settled after emigrating from Hong Kong in the early 70s, Dr. Woo developed a fascination and aptitude for mechanics, repairing and rebuilding cars and working with his hands.
His passion for all things mechanical steered him to his career path in orthopedics, completing his residency at Wayne State University and a fellowship in pediatric orthopedic surgery at the prestigious Scottish Rite Children’s Medical Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
He moved to Gainesville after his fellowship and served as associate and clinical assistant professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation at the University of Florida.
It was during his time in Gainesville that he became involved with CURE International, a network of hospitals the mission of which is to transform the lives of children with physical disabilities and their families in the developing world through medical and spiritual healing.
“My first trip in 2007 to the CURE International Hospital in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic was a profound eye-opener, for me,” said Woo.
“I saw, for the first time, the overwhelming desperation experienced by disabled children and their families in these devastatingly poor countries, and realized that I could make a difference.”
From 2007 through 2010, Woo and his team made eight trips to Santo Domingo to care for children with spine deformities and other orthopedic problems at the CURE International Hospital.
Each trip he funded the travel, room and board of his team, and “negotiated” the entry into the country of a wide variety of donated equipment and medications with the customs authorities, which required very liberal “tipping” of those government officials.
Although Woo and his team focused primarily on providing spine surgery at the hospital in Santo Domingo, they also spent time in the outreach medical clinic in the province of La Vega, where they would see literally hundreds of children for a wide variety of conditions.
In 2009 he also spent a month in Nepal, teaching local physicians basic orthopedic care and caring for children, many of who had severe deformities and conditions, but had never seen a physician.
“The dearth of available resources and the access to and condition of the healthcare facilities in Nepal were even worse than in the Dominican Republic,” said Woo.
“It was very difficult to get our spine surgery hardware and devices into the country, so we had to improvise and actually engineer and build our own integrated hardware from available material like metal rods, wire and screws.”
However, Woo adds with conviction, ”As challenging as it was, it was perhaps the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done.”
Woo’s career path changed in 2010 when he left academic medicine to take a position with the Florida Center for Pediatric Orthopedics, an affiliate of Florida Hospital in Orlando, where he has become one of the most preeminent pediatric orthopedic surgeons in the region.
Renewing his commitment to humanitarian work, he recently returned from a trip to Antigua, an island in the West Indies, where he is working with natives and expatriates to enhance the local access to pediatric subspecialty care through the development of a foundation focused on building both academic and physical infrastructure within country to support care for all children regardless of their ability to pay.
He summed up his conviction of what it takes to be a committed humanitarian during our interview when he said repeatedly with a passion, “You gotta believe in the call to serve and have a ‘Servant’s Heart.’”
He is of large stature, and it is clear that the big man who takes such good care of little people believes and has a huge “Servant’s Heart.”
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The Central Florida Humanitarian Awards were created to recognize outstanding individuals and organizations that dedicate their Time, Talent or Treasure to help people in need locally – and around the world.
This year, more than 40 deserving humanitarians will be honored during the Gala, which will be held Thursday, Nov. 8 at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place, with the festivities beginning at 6 p.m.
“Over the years, our editorial team has had the distinct honor and pleasure of identifying and featuring the many members of our community who give back so much and are dedicated to reaching out and helping others, here and throughout the world, in a multitude of ways,” said Maverick Multimedia Editor-In-Chief Dr. Jim Palermo.
“We remain firmly committed to identifying and telling those stories and providing a timely media platform to recognize Space Coast and Central Florida residents’ altruistic contributions on a regular basis in our magazines, as well as SpaceCoastDaily.com,” said Dr. Palermo.
This inspiring and compelling event is sponsored by Brighthouse Networks, Health First, Brevard Physicians Network, MPAC ACO, Community Credit Union, Kindred Hospital, Knudson Brain & Spine Law Injury Office, Florida Pain, Space Coast Medicine & Active Living magazine, CentralFloridaMedicine.com and SpaceCoastDaily.com.
FOR MORE INFORMATION or to make a reservation to attend the Central Florida Humanitarian Awards Gala call 321-615-8111 or e-mail SpaceCoastMedicine@gmail.com.