Dr. Charles Everett Koop, former US Surgeon General, first surgeon-in-chief of CHOP, professor of pediatric surgery (1959) and professor of pediatrics (1971) at Penn Medicine, passed away on February 25, at the age of 96 in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Dr. Koop was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1916, received his BA from Dartmouth College in 1937, MD from Cornell Medical College in 1941 and earned a Doctor of Science (Medicine) from Penn's Graduate School of Medicine in 1947.
Considered a pioneer in the field of pediatric surgery, Dr. Koop served as chief surgeon at CHOP for 35 years (1946-1981) where he founded the nation's first neonatal intensive-care unit and was the first surgeon to separate Siamese twins joined at the heart.
"Both during his time at CHOP and in his years beyond, Dr. Koop made an immeasurable impact on health worldwide," said Dr. Steven M. Alschuler, chief executive officer of CHOP. "He transformed the relatively new field of pediatric surgery into a significant specialty in its own right. And later, as Surgeon General, he applied the same energy and vision to a much broader spectrum of health issues."
He was the nation's 13th Surgeon General serving in that capacity from 1982-1989. During his tenure, Dr. Koop developed a brochure concerning HIV/AIDS which brought the issue into the public forum. Additionally, he was instrumental in his work towards a "smoke-free" society. His report on tobacco was instrumental in the move toward smoking bans on airplanes, in restaurants and at workplaces.
Dr. Koop was the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the William E. Ladd Gold Medal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Medal of the Legion of Honor by France in 1980. He was inducted into the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1982, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow in 1987, the Royal Society of Medicine in 1997, and received an honorary fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 2009. In 1995 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and an honorary doctor of sciences in 1990 from Penn.
He was the author of more than 230 articles and numerous books on the practice of medicine and surgery, biomedical ethics and health policy.
He is survived by his wife, Cora Hogue; sons: Allen and Norman; a daughter, Elizabeth Thompson; and eight grandchildren.