The death this week of Salt Lake orthopedic surgeon John R. Ream at age 52 in an apparent fall at St. Mark's Hospital tragically cut short a life that had affected many people in many parts of the globe.
Not only was Ream a nationally renowned pioneer in microsurgery techniques used to reattached severed limbs, but he was a physician in the best sense of the word a warm, caring, sympathetic healer.His compassion was not confined only to his patients in Utah. It ranged far and wide, prompting him to undertake volunteer medical service in Tunisia, Afghanistan, and Liberia. He arranged for victims of the Afghanistan war to be brought to Salt Lake City for medical treatment and made sure to meet them at the airport to ease the first encounter of those ailing victims with a strange and different world.
Dr. Ream's worldwide horizons also had been expanded with an LDS mission in Brazil and a year as a U.S. Army doctor in Vietnam.
His successful work reattaching severed limbs has meant the difference between a serious handicap and a normal life for many victims of accidents. As Ted Fox, vice president of St. Mark's Hospital points out, there are many people "who have arms and legs and fingers because of Dr. Ream's work."
It's not given to many people to make such a lasting physical difference in the lives of others.
In addition to his obvious skill as a surgeon and researcher, Dr. Ream was simply a nice person, highly-regarded by his peers, respected and liked by hospital staff and by his patients.
That's an important measure of the man. He will be sorely missed by his family, his colleagues, and his patients. But what he gave to the world in new knowledge will continue to benefit others for years to come.