Panamerican Journal of Trauma, Critical Care and Emergency Surgery
Volume 9 | Issue 1 | Year 2020

Institutional Merit Award

Corresponding Author:

The Merit Award from Fundacion Valle del Lili is granted to the physician of the year, who stands for his commitment to the institution, human quality, leadership, contribution to development, service vocation, responsibility, and personal relationships, and who complies with all the institutional values; within these, there is an important one, which is the integrity that leads to the ethics as a fundamental value to all our collaborators. Additionally, this physician gives even more, he creates, innovates, and this leads the institution to be at a high level in our country and in Latin America.

This distinction is awarded to Doctor Carlos Alberto Ordoñez D.

December 18, 2019, Cali, Colombia.

Dr Marcela Granados,

Medical Director,

Fundacion Valle de Lili, Cali, Colombia.


I want to thank Mayor Maurice Armitage for all he’s done for the city of Cali and for his presence at this award ceremony. I feel honored receiving this distinction and grateful to Fundacion Valle del Lili and its administrative staff: Dr Borrero, Dr Marcela Granados, Dr Quintero, and Dr Watemberg, for having shared these past 25 years with me. I want to thank my family, my parents, my wife Sandra, and my children Sebastian, Alejandro, Paulina, and Jacobo, and all my friends and coworkers.

I want to dedicate a few words to the new upcoming generations:

Dr Adams Cowley, Founder of the Shock Trauma Center, stated that “if I can get to you, stop the bleed and restore the blood pressure in the first hour after the accident, I may be able to save you.” This ended up being known as the “Golden Hour.” Dr Cowley was never satisfied and during the inauguration of his new trauma center he said, “We have done a great work, but we haven’t done enough. People are still dying unnecessarily.”

These words were said more than 40 years ago and I had the fortune of meeting him and these words left a huge impression on me. Today, despite all the work done by surgeons all over the world, including our own, people are still dying unnecessarily. But, how can we lower this burden further?

Einstein said, “Madness is to do the same thing over and over again expecting different results,” but this is exactly the pattern that we fall into repeatedly. We dare not do something different from what is considered the “right way” because we have been taught no differently, it’s what the literature says, its dogma or the established paradigm, and to dare to do something different is hard, difficult and at times exhausting. The potential criticism, opposition, lawsuits, audits, and the disdain of our fellow colleagues refrain us from such actions.

We are taught to live in fear, and this inhibits change. What is needed is that we need to dream the impossible. To accomplish this, it is necessary to fight, to persevere, to risk, not to have fear of failure, to be resilient, and to adapt to adverse situations. What distinguishes leaders from followers is their creativity and innovation.

We must have firm and clear convictions. In trauma, the patient’s life is in your hands; if the patient gets to you alive, ¡He must stay alive! So you have to have the knowledge, the skills, and the confidence to overcome the odds.

Cali has been a violent city for over 40 years. In the 1990s, it was one of the most violent cities of the world, with a homicide rate higher than 125 per 100,000 inhabitants. For us to understand the magnitude of this problem, we must remember that rates higher than 20 per 100,000 inhabitants are considered an epidemic. Nowadays the rates have lowered but remain around the 50 per 100,000 habitants range.

¡¡But we have turned this misfortune to fortune!! Because opportunities are always hidden among difficulties. In the 1980s, when we created our trauma team, the mortality of our severely injured patients with gunshot wounds averaged around 70–80%, but nowadays only 20% of these patients die at our institution.

Nelson Mandela once said that education is the most powerful weapon to change the world. We have applied this mantra in trauma, acute care surgery, and critical care. We have realized that it is not enough to achieve survival for each one of our critically injured trauma patients, but also to transform this experience in science for others around the globe to learn from our vast experience and the innovations we dare to achieve. Through our publications, we have contributed to the education of other surgeons around the world with the ultimate goal of saving lives beyond our city limits and reaching the farthest corners of the globe. We have to be surgeons who leave a mark and not just scars.

A leader must form future leaders; the new generation of surgeons must keep innovating and breaking paradigms until we are able to reduce mortality at minimum. We have created a brotherhood of trauma surgeons that expand beyond the borders of Colombia and Latin America.

How do you build a true academic career? First of all, you have to truly enjoy and love what you do. Your experience and knowledge must be at the reach of everyone; it must become a scientific paper. This legacy of knowledge is essential for the advancement and care of our fellow men.

Dr Alonso Gomez, emeritus professor of intensive care, one day told me that the most important thing in life is to be able to create a school and that is exactly what we are building here, a school of Colombian Trauma and Acute Care Surgeons with a solid ground of knowledge in intensive care who are committed to their patients, to their institution, and to their country (Figs 1 and 2).

Currently, the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan have taught us about the first 10–15 platinum minutes of hemorrhage control, which is essential to improve the outcomes. Surgeons from all over the world are working hard to achieve this goal. Let’s show the world that we are capable and willing to achieve these goals!

Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

Welcome to the future.

Thank you very much.

Carlos Alberto Ordoñez D, MD, FACS

Fig. 1: Institutional Merit Award ceremony, in the screen are displayed the values that characterize the awarded: honesty, motivation, innovation, humility and social responsibility. On the left, Dr Carlos A Ordoñez

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