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Dr. Harold Hoffman, innovative neurosurgeon
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m***@aol.com
2004-11-20 14:59:15 UTC
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http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20041120/OBHOFFMAN20/TPObituaries/

The Toronto neurosurgeon operated on thousands of patients and yet his
best known case was a 12-hour procedure performed on two little girls
from Karachi, Pakistan
By SANDRA MARTIN (Toronto Globe and Mail)
Saturday, November 20, 2004 - Page S11



In a surgical career that spanned 30 years and thousands of operations,
Dr. Harold Hoffman will always be remembered for operating on two
little girls named Hira and Nida Jamal.

The two-year-old twins from Pakistan, who had been born with their
heads joined, had been confined to intensive care at Karachi's National
Institute of Child Health where they might have languished if Benazir
Bhuto, then prime minister of Pakistan, hadn't intervened. In 1995, Ms.
Bhuto committed $100,000 in government funds for a global search for a
surgeon willing to take on the challenge of separating them.

It was to be Dr. Hoffman's most celebrated case.

Dr. Hoffman and his team at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto
spent more than 12 hours in the operating room. Dr. James Rutka, who
served as Dr. Hoffman's assistant during the operation, remembered it
well. "At one critical juncture in the case when a blood vessel which
joined the twins had let loose and was bleeding profusely, Harold
quickly hooked the vessel with his index finger and clipped it with his
other hand," he said in a eulogy to Dr. Hoffman this week. Both twins
survived the procedure, which Dr. Rutka said was "miraculous," but Nida
suffered a stroke a month later and died.

Harold Joseph Hoffman was born in Toronto, the only son of Louis and
Goldie Hoffman. His parents, who were both tailors, had emigrated from
Poland after the First World War. They opened a dress shop on Bloor
Street West and lived with her mother Rachel and their two children,
Harold and Lorraine, in a small apartment above their store. Even as a
little boy, Dr. Hoffman wanted to be a doctor and his parents, who
placed a great value on education, did everything in their power to
encourage him.

"Their world revolved around him. My grandfather used to tell the story
about how he made sure everyone stayed quiet when my father was
studying" recalled Dr. Hoffman's second son Andrew, a real-estate
developer. Lorraine Hoffman Allan, seven years younger than her
brother, also excelled academically. She earned a doctorate in
psychology from McMaster University, where she continues to teach.

Dr. Hoffman graduated from the University of Toronto Medical School in
1956, with a panoply of academic scholarships to his credit. The next
year he married JoAnn Shulman and together they had three children,
Richard, Andrew and Katie.

After completing a residency in neurosurgery under the late Dr. Harry
Botterell, Dr. Hoffman joined the staff of the Hospital for Sick
Children in 1964. There he worked with Bruce Hendrick, the first
pediatric neurosurgeon in Canada, and Robin Humphreys. Collectively,
the three men, who were called the 3Hs, co-authored definitive
publications on pediatric neurosurgery and drew students from around
the world. More than 120 international fellows and 200 University of
Toronto residents trained in pediatric neurosurgery under Dr. Hoffman.
By 1986, he had risen to become Neurosurgeon-in-Chief at the Hospital
for Sick Children, a position he held for a decade. Two years later,
the Harold J. Hoffman/Shoppers Drug Mart Chair in Pediatric
Neurosurgery was established at the hospital in recognition of his
achievements and his international reputation.

Although the operation on the twins netted Dr. Hoffman an enormous
amount of attention, it wasn't the biggest achievement of his career,
according to Dr. James Drake, a former student who is the current
holder of the Hoffman Chair in pediatric neurosurgery at HSC.

Besides working full time as a surgeon, Dr. Hoffman published 200
articles, edited and contributed to numerous textbooks, pioneered
innovative techniques on seemingly inoperable brain tumours and facial
abnormalities and amassed a research collection of more than 40,000
slides based on his clinical experience that have been digitized and
placed on the University of Toronto Neurosurgery website.

Pointing out that many of Dr. Hoffman's publications were landmark
articles that are still cited today, Dr. Drake said: "His breadth of
innovation was incredible. He was a technical genius and he embraced
new technology even towards the end of his career when it gets harder
to do that. He looked for any way he could to improve his surgical
results."
From all accounts, Dr. Hoffman played as hard as he worked.
Fred Epstein met him at the first international meeting of pediatric
neurosurgery in Japan in 1973 and they became fast friends and
colleagues.

As a surgeon, Harold Hoffman was "somebody who felt he could do
anything," Dr. Epstein said from his home in New York. "He felt that
whatever he did was the right way and the only way. He was convinced
that he was the best in everything -- and he was. He was very, very
good."

The two men, who worked together to design one of the world's first
Uni-shunts (a device that helps avoid problems of disconnections and
breakages when diverting blood flow), were in demand as lecturers and
surgeons around the world. When they weren't working, they loved
playing games with each other and on each other. "We were very
competitive," said Dr. Epstein fondly. "I would buy a watch and he
would buy a watch. I would always try and one-up him and he would try
and one-up me."

Dr. Rutka said his mentor possessed eccentricities as well as genius,
including the wearing of a monocle and, on formal occasions, a
pince-nez.

For many years, Dr. Hoffman was such a committed pipe smoker that his
son says "for the first 15 years of my life he had a pipe in his mouth
every waking minute other than when he was in the hospital." According
to a story that his family swears is true, Dr. Hoffman., pipe in mouth,
once fell out of a canoe in rough water. He went under and popped up
again still clenching the pipe between his teeth and continued to puff
away contentedly.

After he retired in 1998, Dr. Hoffman took up painting. He signed up
for art classes and with his typically prodigious energy he painted
some 20 canvasses in about six months. These paintings, which are
mainly landscapes, are now hanging on the walls of the family cottage
at Lake Simcoe and in the homes of his wife and three children. "They
are quite special," said Mr. Hoffman. "People see these paintings and
ask who did them and are quite blown away that [they were painted by]
my father during his illness."

In a ghastly twist, the internationally famous brain surgeon who saved
the lives of thousands of children developed frontal lobe dementia. The
disease manifested itself shortly after he retired.

"The dementia got progressively worse," said his son-in-law Jordan
Atin. "Speech was the first thing to go and then he couldn't walk or
move his arms." Describing his father-in-law as "a very tall man and a
very striking figure," he said it was "tragic" to watch his decline.

Dr. Hoffman had a great career and he was never able to enjoy the
aftermath, lamented Dr. Drake. "He had a tremendous amount to
contribute in terms of his teaching and his continued involvement in
pediatric neurosurgery and he was denied that. It was horrible."

A legacy that his son says is a great comfort to the family are the
letters and phone calls from former patients in places as far away as
Japan and Israel attesting to the impact Dr. Hoffman had on their
lives. "You hear a lot of gratifying stories," he said, mentioning the
case of a 13-year-old girl diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in
the 1970s. "My dad pioneered the removal of that type of tumour and she
says she owes her life to him."

Dr. Hoffman's confidence and enthusiasm rubbed off on his patients,
observed Dr. Drake. "He was optimistic no matter how bleak things
looked. He never quit and they really loved him for that."

In a final request, Dr. Hoffman asked that his brain be donated to the
Canadian Brain Tissue Bank for research purposes.

Harold Joseph Hoffman was born on May 12, 1932. He died in Toronto on
Nov. 14, 2004. He was 72. He is survived by his wife JoAnn who, even
though she suffers multiple sclerosis, cared for him at home during his
final illness. He also left his children Richard, Andrew and Katie.
m***@gmail.com
2015-10-18 23:51:33 UTC
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He saved my son's life 20 years ago
Justin Maciel he was 12 years old at the time. Thank you Dr. Hoffman. May you rest in peace..
8***@gmail.com
2016-02-12 00:35:31 UTC
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Post by m***@gmail.com
He saved my son's life 20 years ago
Justin Maciel he was 12 years old at the time. Thank you Dr. Hoffman. May you rest in peace..
He saved my life when I was 11. I am sitting here now telling my 4 children young his story.
k***@hotmail.com
2016-04-02 00:48:04 UTC
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He saved my life when i was born 1995, he preformed a miracle surgery on my spine. I had severe spina bifida to this day i thank him for everything ive gotten to if it wasnt for him i wouldn't of been able to spend time with my parents and friends going fishing, doing sports and generally living life. My only regret is that ive never been able to shake his hand and thank him for what he did for me.

RIP Dr. Harold J Hoffman
you will be remembered and stand the test of time through what you've done and your research.
Kenny McCormack
2016-04-02 02:34:56 UTC
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Post by k***@hotmail.com
He saved my life when i was born 1995, he preformed a miracle surgery on my
spine. I had severe spina bifida to this day i thank him for everything ive
gotten to if it wasnt for him i wouldn't of been able to spend time with my
parents and friends going fishing, doing sports and generally living life. My
only regret is that ive never been able to shake his hand and thank him for what
he did for me.
RIP Dr. Harold J Hoffman
you will be remembered and stand the test of time through what you've done and your research.
Note: Not the Harold G Hoffman who was:
a) Governor of New Jersey
and
b) On the panel of the debut episode of WML

That was who I first thought of when I saw the name, and wondered
(actually, assumed) it was, indeed, the same person.

(Although, he'd be about a million years old in 1995...)
--
When people wish to comment on something on which they have personal
knowledge, but do not wish to convey the fact that it is personal
knowledge, they often qualify their statement with "it's my
understanding". For instance, it's my understanding that when some
women are depressed they sit on the futon in a Snuggie, watch Lifetime,
and eat a whole tub of Rocky Road ice cream.
Rob Cibik
2016-04-02 08:50:38 UTC
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Post by Kenny McCormack
When people wish to comment on something on which they have personal
knowledge, but do not wish to convey the fact that it is personal
knowledge, they often qualify their statement with "it's my
understanding". For instance, it's my understanding that when some
women are depressed they sit on the futon in a Snuggie, watch Lifetime,
and eat a whole tub of Rocky Road ice cream.
Sexist much?

Typical leftist hypocrite.
a***@gmail.com
2016-12-20 15:50:31 UTC
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Had surgery in 1995 a right temporal lobectomy to remove a scar tissue they couldn't remove it all because of its position but none less was very affective with controlling my epilepsy I can do surgery again to remove the rest and I wish I can do it again under his care and am very grateful I was able to have him as my surgeon. To the family I'm very sorry for your loss and Thank you again for your help I can enjoy my life and my family a little better now because of you.
a***@gmail.com
2016-12-20 15:53:57 UTC
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He saved me when I had my surgery and I am very grateful
d***@gmail.com
2016-12-23 20:31:43 UTC
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Dear Dr. Hoffman,

I came too late and you are with the angels as you so deserve. I'm sorry as I speak from a Christian perspective and I know Dr. Hoffman was Jewish. I mean no disrespect and from what I've read he has certainly fulfilled a wonderful role here on Earth and deserves nothing but Peace in the afterlife.
My name is David Schronk and I had a brain tumour removed by this brilliant man in 1980 when I was 4 at the Hospital for Sick Children. My parents went through a terrible time with my illness and he was the ray of hope they required and received.
I am 40 years old today and luckily had a full recovery for the most part. My mother is still with me and she proclaimed you as "her rock" in the tempestuous times I recall vaguely at best. I only remember the pain you took away, and I am forever grateful.
My entire family, including my daughter Melanie who just recently turned 14 have you to thank for my continued presence on Earth. She has an interest in medicine and I know that knowledge of your blessed work will make her work all the harder to attain her goals. She mentioned she wanted to be a neurosurgeon like yourself, which I encourage and hope one day to see. However, I think all medical callings are a great endeavour for which our friend's like Dr. Harold Hoffman are the pioneers. I'm glad she knows of such a man as Dr. Hoffman and the great work he did
To hear of your passing so long after it's time troubles me greatly, but I know a soul like yours could only be with the angels or in a place beyond my comprehension as I know the Torah only speaks briefly of it(the afterlife). Obviously, your inspiration to your colleagues and the parents of these poor sick children give you blessings you from the bottom of their heart. I know my mother puts you in her prayers as the saviour of her son and I thank you so very much. My mother mentioned something about 3 Doctors with last names starting with an H...and you were referred to as the 3 H's...I'm not sure whether this has any relevance, but you were a comfort to her during these times I couldn't imagine as a parent myself with a sick child.
I'm sorry that I am not very eloquent. My mother and I decided to research Dr. Hoffman today and I came upon his passing. We are both in a state of grief for a great man, but I know his great work carries on through his colleagues and past students.
Tonight my mother and I will celebrate the life of a hero. I trained to be a chef and will cook a meal with all my skill and we will talk about those times and how Dr. Harold Hoffman saved our entire family. Thank you sir, and Rest in Peace.

David Schronk

I am alive thanks to a great man. Thank you for allowing me to experience a full enjoyable life with all its ups and downs. If the soul is eternal, you will be remembered forever by many for all the lives you touched in such a positive way. Thank you.
a***@gmail.com
2017-01-22 04:06:28 UTC
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He performed my brain tumor surgery in 1982 and saved my life I am sad I never got to thank him.
e***@gmail.com
2017-02-14 00:22:22 UTC
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Post by m***@aol.com
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20041120/OBHOFFMAN20/TPObituaries/
The Toronto neurosurgeon operated on thousands of patients and yet his
best known case was a 12-hour procedure performed on two little girls
from Karachi, Pakistan
By SANDRA MARTIN (Toronto Globe and Mail)
Saturday, November 20, 2004 - Page S11
In a surgical career that spanned 30 years and thousands of operations,
Dr. Harold Hoffman will always be remembered for operating on two
little girls named Hira and Nida Jamal.
The two-year-old twins from Pakistan, who had been born with their
heads joined, had been confined to intensive care at Karachi's National
Institute of Child Health where they might have languished if Benazir
Bhuto, then prime minister of Pakistan, hadn't intervened. In 1995, Ms.
Bhuto committed $100,000 in government funds for a global search for a
surgeon willing to take on the challenge of separating them.
It was to be Dr. Hoffman's most celebrated case.
Dr. Hoffman and his team at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto
spent more than 12 hours in the operating room. Dr. James Rutka, who
served as Dr. Hoffman's assistant during the operation, remembered it
well. "At one critical juncture in the case when a blood vessel which
joined the twins had let loose and was bleeding profusely, Harold
quickly hooked the vessel with his index finger and clipped it with his
other hand," he said in a eulogy to Dr. Hoffman this week. Both twins
survived the procedure, which Dr. Rutka said was "miraculous," but Nida
suffered a stroke a month later and died.
Harold Joseph Hoffman was born in Toronto, the only son of Louis and
Goldie Hoffman. His parents, who were both tailors, had emigrated from
Poland after the First World War. They opened a dress shop on Bloor
Street West and lived with her mother Rachel and their two children,
Harold and Lorraine, in a small apartment above their store. Even as a
little boy, Dr. Hoffman wanted to be a doctor and his parents, who
placed a great value on education, did everything in their power to
encourage him.
"Their world revolved around him. My grandfather used to tell the story
about how he made sure everyone stayed quiet when my father was
studying" recalled Dr. Hoffman's second son Andrew, a real-estate
developer. Lorraine Hoffman Allan, seven years younger than her
brother, also excelled academically. She earned a doctorate in
psychology from McMaster University, where she continues to teach.
Dr. Hoffman graduated from the University of Toronto Medical School in
1956, with a panoply of academic scholarships to his credit. The next
year he married JoAnn Shulman and together they had three children,
Richard, Andrew and Katie.
After completing a residency in neurosurgery under the late Dr. Harry
Botterell, Dr. Hoffman joined the staff of the Hospital for Sick
Children in 1964. There he worked with Bruce Hendrick, the first
pediatric neurosurgeon in Canada, and Robin Humphreys. Collectively,
the three men, who were called the 3Hs, co-authored definitive
publications on pediatric neurosurgery and drew students from around
the world. More than 120 international fellows and 200 University of
Toronto residents trained in pediatric neurosurgery under Dr. Hoffman.
By 1986, he had risen to become Neurosurgeon-in-Chief at the Hospital
for Sick Children, a position he held for a decade. Two years later,
the Harold J. Hoffman/Shoppers Drug Mart Chair in Pediatric
Neurosurgery was established at the hospital in recognition of his
achievements and his international reputation.
Although the operation on the twins netted Dr. Hoffman an enormous
amount of attention, it wasn't the biggest achievement of his career,
according to Dr. James Drake, a former student who is the current
holder of the Hoffman Chair in pediatric neurosurgery at HSC.
Besides working full time as a surgeon, Dr. Hoffman published 200
articles, edited and contributed to numerous textbooks, pioneered
innovative techniques on seemingly inoperable brain tumours and facial
abnormalities and amassed a research collection of more than 40,000
slides based on his clinical experience that have been digitized and
placed on the University of Toronto Neurosurgery website.
Pointing out that many of Dr. Hoffman's publications were landmark
articles that are still cited today, Dr. Drake said: "His breadth of
innovation was incredible. He was a technical genius and he embraced
new technology even towards the end of his career when it gets harder
to do that. He looked for any way he could to improve his surgical
results."
From all accounts, Dr. Hoffman played as hard as he worked.
Fred Epstein met him at the first international meeting of pediatric
neurosurgery in Japan in 1973 and they became fast friends and
colleagues.
As a surgeon, Harold Hoffman was "somebody who felt he could do
anything," Dr. Epstein said from his home in New York. "He felt that
whatever he did was the right way and the only way. He was convinced
that he was the best in everything -- and he was. He was very, very
good."
The two men, who worked together to design one of the world's first
Uni-shunts (a device that helps avoid problems of disconnections and
breakages when diverting blood flow), were in demand as lecturers and
surgeons around the world. When they weren't working, they loved
playing games with each other and on each other. "We were very
competitive," said Dr. Epstein fondly. "I would buy a watch and he
would buy a watch. I would always try and one-up him and he would try
and one-up me."
Dr. Rutka said his mentor possessed eccentricities as well as genius,
including the wearing of a monocle and, on formal occasions, a
pince-nez.
For many years, Dr. Hoffman was such a committed pipe smoker that his
son says "for the first 15 years of my life he had a pipe in his mouth
every waking minute other than when he was in the hospital." According
to a story that his family swears is true, Dr. Hoffman., pipe in mouth,
once fell out of a canoe in rough water. He went under and popped up
again still clenching the pipe between his teeth and continued to puff
away contentedly.
After he retired in 1998, Dr. Hoffman took up painting. He signed up
for art classes and with his typically prodigious energy he painted
some 20 canvasses in about six months. These paintings, which are
mainly landscapes, are now hanging on the walls of the family cottage
at Lake Simcoe and in the homes of his wife and three children. "They
are quite special," said Mr. Hoffman. "People see these paintings and
ask who did them and are quite blown away that [they were painted by]
my father during his illness."
In a ghastly twist, the internationally famous brain surgeon who saved
the lives of thousands of children developed frontal lobe dementia. The
disease manifested itself shortly after he retired.
"The dementia got progressively worse," said his son-in-law Jordan
Atin. "Speech was the first thing to go and then he couldn't walk or
move his arms." Describing his father-in-law as "a very tall man and a
very striking figure," he said it was "tragic" to watch his decline.
Dr. Hoffman had a great career and he was never able to enjoy the
aftermath, lamented Dr. Drake. "He had a tremendous amount to
contribute in terms of his teaching and his continued involvement in
pediatric neurosurgery and he was denied that. It was horrible."
A legacy that his son says is a great comfort to the family are the
letters and phone calls from former patients in places as far away as
Japan and Israel attesting to the impact Dr. Hoffman had on their
lives. "You hear a lot of gratifying stories," he said, mentioning the
case of a 13-year-old girl diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in
the 1970s. "My dad pioneered the removal of that type of tumour and she
says she owes her life to him."
Dr. Hoffman's confidence and enthusiasm rubbed off on his patients,
observed Dr. Drake. "He was optimistic no matter how bleak things
looked. He never quit and they really loved him for that."
In a final request, Dr. Hoffman asked that his brain be donated to the
Canadian Brain Tissue Bank for research purposes.
Harold Joseph Hoffman was born on May 12, 1932. He died in Toronto on
Nov. 14, 2004. He was 72. He is survived by his wife JoAnn who, even
though she suffers multiple sclerosis, cared for him at home during his
final illness. He also left his children Richard, Andrew and Katie.
I have a 49 year old daughter who would probably not be alive today if it were not for Dr Hoffman. The world has lost a great man and a great doctor.
8***@gmail.com
2017-11-02 13:39:30 UTC
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I am 45 now, he saved my life in 1983, 4 health children of my own.

I ran into a Sick Kids neurosurgeon at a fundraiser a few years ago and told them my story, all he could say was "you are blessed..."
s***@gmail.com
2017-11-04 21:40:54 UTC
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Post by m***@aol.com
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20041120/OBHOFFMAN20/TPObituaries/
The Toronto neurosurgeon operated on thousands of patients and yet his
best known case was a 12-hour procedure performed on two little girls
from Karachi, Pakistan
By SANDRA MARTIN (Toronto Globe and Mail)
Saturday, November 20, 2004 - Page S11
In a surgical career that spanned 30 years and thousands of operations,
Dr. Harold Hoffman will always be remembered for operating on two
little girls named Hira and Nida Jamal.
The two-year-old twins from Pakistan, who had been born with their
heads joined, had been confined to intensive care at Karachi's National
Institute of Child Health where they might have languished if Benazir
Bhuto, then prime minister of Pakistan, hadn't intervened. In 1995, Ms.
Bhuto committed $100,000 in government funds for a global search for a
surgeon willing to take on the challenge of separating them.
It was to be Dr. Hoffman's most celebrated case.
Dr. Hoffman and his team at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto
spent more than 12 hours in the operating room. Dr. James Rutka, who
served as Dr. Hoffman's assistant during the operation, remembered it
well. "At one critical juncture in the case when a blood vessel which
joined the twins had let loose and was bleeding profusely, Harold
quickly hooked the vessel with his index finger and clipped it with his
other hand," he said in a eulogy to Dr. Hoffman this week. Both twins
survived the procedure, which Dr. Rutka said was "miraculous," but Nida
suffered a stroke a month later and died.
Harold Joseph Hoffman was born in Toronto, the only son of Louis and
Goldie Hoffman. His parents, who were both tailors, had emigrated from
Poland after the First World War. They opened a dress shop on Bloor
Street West and lived with her mother Rachel and their two children,
Harold and Lorraine, in a small apartment above their store. Even as a
little boy, Dr. Hoffman wanted to be a doctor and his parents, who
placed a great value on education, did everything in their power to
encourage him.
"Their world revolved around him. My grandfather used to tell the story
about how he made sure everyone stayed quiet when my father was
studying" recalled Dr. Hoffman's second son Andrew, a real-estate
developer. Lorraine Hoffman Allan, seven years younger than her
brother, also excelled academically. She earned a doctorate in
psychology from McMaster University, where she continues to teach.
Dr. Hoffman graduated from the University of Toronto Medical School in
1956, with a panoply of academic scholarships to his credit. The next
year he married JoAnn Shulman and together they had three children,
Richard, Andrew and Katie.
After completing a residency in neurosurgery under the late Dr. Harry
Botterell, Dr. Hoffman joined the staff of the Hospital for Sick
Children in 1964. There he worked with Bruce Hendrick, the first
pediatric neurosurgeon in Canada, and Robin Humphreys. Collectively,
the three men, who were called the 3Hs, co-authored definitive
publications on pediatric neurosurgery and drew students from around
the world. More than 120 international fellows and 200 University of
Toronto residents trained in pediatric neurosurgery under Dr. Hoffman.
By 1986, he had risen to become Neurosurgeon-in-Chief at the Hospital
for Sick Children, a position he held for a decade. Two years later,
the Harold J. Hoffman/Shoppers Drug Mart Chair in Pediatric
Neurosurgery was established at the hospital in recognition of his
achievements and his international reputation.
Although the operation on the twins netted Dr. Hoffman an enormous
amount of attention, it wasn't the biggest achievement of his career,
according to Dr. James Drake, a former student who is the current
holder of the Hoffman Chair in pediatric neurosurgery at HSC.
Besides working full time as a surgeon, Dr. Hoffman published 200
articles, edited and contributed to numerous textbooks, pioneered
innovative techniques on seemingly inoperable brain tumours and facial
abnormalities and amassed a research collection of more than 40,000
slides based on his clinical experience that have been digitized and
placed on the University of Toronto Neurosurgery website.
Pointing out that many of Dr. Hoffman's publications were landmark
articles that are still cited today, Dr. Drake said: "His breadth of
innovation was incredible. He was a technical genius and he embraced
new technology even towards the end of his career when it gets harder
to do that. He looked for any way he could to improve his surgical
results."
From all accounts, Dr. Hoffman played as hard as he worked.
Fred Epstein met him at the first international meeting of pediatric
neurosurgery in Japan in 1973 and they became fast friends and
colleagues.
As a surgeon, Harold Hoffman was "somebody who felt he could do
anything," Dr. Epstein said from his home in New York. "He felt that
whatever he did was the right way and the only way. He was convinced
that he was the best in everything -- and he was. He was very, very
good."
The two men, who worked together to design one of the world's first
Uni-shunts (a device that helps avoid problems of disconnections and
breakages when diverting blood flow), were in demand as lecturers and
surgeons around the world. When they weren't working, they loved
playing games with each other and on each other. "We were very
competitive," said Dr. Epstein fondly. "I would buy a watch and he
would buy a watch. I would always try and one-up him and he would try
and one-up me."
Dr. Rutka said his mentor possessed eccentricities as well as genius,
including the wearing of a monocle and, on formal occasions, a
pince-nez.
For many years, Dr. Hoffman was such a committed pipe smoker that his
son says "for the first 15 years of my life he had a pipe in his mouth
every waking minute other than when he was in the hospital." According
to a story that his family swears is true, Dr. Hoffman., pipe in mouth,
once fell out of a canoe in rough water. He went under and popped up
again still clenching the pipe between his teeth and continued to puff
away contentedly.
After he retired in 1998, Dr. Hoffman took up painting. He signed up
for art classes and with his typically prodigious energy he painted
some 20 canvasses in about six months. These paintings, which are
mainly landscapes, are now hanging on the walls of the family cottage
at Lake Simcoe and in the homes of his wife and three children. "They
are quite special," said Mr. Hoffman. "People see these paintings and
ask who did them and are quite blown away that [they were painted by]
my father during his illness."
In a ghastly twist, the internationally famous brain surgeon who saved
the lives of thousands of children developed frontal lobe dementia. The
disease manifested itself shortly after he retired.
"The dementia got progressively worse," said his son-in-law Jordan
Atin. "Speech was the first thing to go and then he couldn't walk or
move his arms." Describing his father-in-law as "a very tall man and a
very striking figure," he said it was "tragic" to watch his decline.
Dr. Hoffman had a great career and he was never able to enjoy the
aftermath, lamented Dr. Drake. "He had a tremendous amount to
contribute in terms of his teaching and his continued involvement in
pediatric neurosurgery and he was denied that. It was horrible."
A legacy that his son says is a great comfort to the family are the
letters and phone calls from former patients in places as far away as
Japan and Israel attesting to the impact Dr. Hoffman had on their
lives. "You hear a lot of gratifying stories," he said, mentioning the
case of a 13-year-old girl diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in
the 1970s. "My dad pioneered the removal of that type of tumour and she
says she owes her life to him."
Dr. Hoffman's confidence and enthusiasm rubbed off on his patients,
observed Dr. Drake. "He was optimistic no matter how bleak things
looked. He never quit and they really loved him for that."
In a final request, Dr. Hoffman asked that his brain be donated to the
Canadian Brain Tissue Bank for research purposes.
Harold Joseph Hoffman was born on May 12, 1932. He died in Toronto on
Nov. 14, 2004. He was 72. He is survived by his wife JoAnn who, even
though she suffers multiple sclerosis, cared for him at home during his
final illness. He also left his children Richard, Andrew and Katie.
is this the same Dr. that performed experiments on children with epilepsy from 1940's to 1960's ? good riddance MONSTER
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