A salute to Sam Quadri: Celebrating forty years of surgical excellence

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He’s been helping people for as long as I can remember.

And longer.

He saved the life of my childhood friend when she couldn’t breathe as a newborn.  He safely removed the tonsils and adenoids from thousands of people across South Central Ontario. He’s a leader in endoscopic sinus surgery and has provided tremendous relief to patients suffering from sinusitis and other sinus-related complications.

Fact: Forty years of surgical excellence and the most compassionate man I know. But not because he’s my Dad. Because for the last four decades he’s been healing others; skillfully, unselfishly, with pride and integrity. Every challenge he undertakes is cared for thoroughly, with unbelievably steady hands, a big smile and an even bigger heart.

For the last forty years Quadri has called the operating room at Barrie’s Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) his second home; his colleagues, his second family, and his Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgical practice, a reason to ‘get up and go’ every day.

“I am alive and well because I love what I do,” Quadri beams. “Helping people to feel better is truly rewarding and has been a priority for me in all my years of practice. Knowing that I’m making a difference in peoples lives makes me feel good about myself.”

This month marks a significant milestone in Quadri’s career, as he hangs up his gloves and says goodbye to surgery; a profession that’s brought great joy, excitement and challenge while at the same time showcasing his remarkable dedication, kind and caring professionalism.

“He takes the time to care for the whole wellness of his patients with true kindness,” said Marg Drury, a registered nurse who worked alongside Quadri for several years at RVH before her retirement a few years ago. “His patients love him and he brings to the theatre a relaxed nature and friendliness to all.”

“Dr. Quadri saved my life, and I give him a big hug every time I see him,” said Ron Hoggarth, a former National Hockey League (NHL) referee for over 20 years. “After routine sinus surgery, I was bleeding very badly; Dr. Quadri quickly figured out the problem and told me I was going to be okay. That’s how I came to know him as a compassionate doctor,” exclaimed Hoggarth, now semi-retired and working in commercial real estate. “When he walks into a room, it’s easy to notice Dr. Quadri’s soft-spoken manner and respect for people. And it’s not just in the operating room; it’s his personality and the ‘man in general’ who treats everyone with this level of care and compassion.”

Growing up in Barrie, I was accustomed to daily comments and questions about my Dad. Classmates, teachers, friends and even strangers – who knew my last name – would ask if I was related to “Dr. Quadri.” When I replied “yes,” their response would be followed with a story:

“Your Dad helped my mother-in-law to breathe better; he also restored her hearing.” Or, “Dr. Quadri removed my son’s tonsils; and he hasn’t had a sore throat in three years.” Stories would be accompanied by a remark on my Dad’s personality: “Dr. Quadri is always smiling; he’s a really nice guy.” Or, “Your Dad made me feel comfortable and at ease during my surgery. I couldn’t have gotten through it without him.”

As a teenager, I’ll admit, I wasn’t enamoured to hear about my Dad and what he was doing at work, every day; but as I grew up and more time passed, I learned why my Dad has so many cheerleaders. I realized that his years of commitment – working long hours and sometimes being late for dinner – are because of his dedication to and passion for helping other people. Today, I admire his outstanding and long-standing reputation for excellence in care and for genuinely being “a nice guy” to everyone. It’s a level of respect and admiration that most people dream about.

“I have always known [Dr. Quadri] to be a very genuine, kind and caring surgeon [with] an innate ability to establish rapport with patients and friends alike,” said Dr. Peter Adamson, Head of the University of Toronto’s Division of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery; Professor in the Department, and a former colleague of Quadri’s in Barrie. “Although surgery itself is ultimately a technical specialty, the humanity expressed by [Dr. Quadri] forms the foundation for all of our professional relationships and work,” noted Adamson, also a staff surgeon at the Toronto General Hospital. “As such [Dr. Quadri] has had the ability to not only objectively improve [patients] health through medical and surgical care, but also through their subjective feeling of well-being.”

That “feeling of well-being” was so overwhelming for Jack Harrison, patient and Ontario Provincial Police Officer, that he presented Dr. Quadri with a plaque of appreciation.

“Thank you for changing my life and the life of my children. You will always have a special place in our hearts. Your skilled hands have improved so many lives. I would like to congratulate you on being a great surgeon and thank you for being a friend.”

At the end of May I had the opportunity to watch those “skilled hands” and that “great surgeon” at work for the first time.

There he stood, taller than I’ve ever seen him, in navy blue scrubs with a white cap – drenched with red Canadian maple leafs (I should mention that my East Indian expat Dad is a proud Canadian) – and the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. As I looked on, my Dad was at the helm, doing what he does best; working with a team, engaging a group of people and putting his best foot forward to help somebody else. He was calm, he was focused and I knew he was also excited to show me what he’s been doing since long before I was born. It was an experience of a lifetime; but not just for a ‘proud daughter.’

“It was truly the highlight of my surgical career,” my Dad said to me at the end of the day. “Thank you for making it happen, you made me very proud.”

So to my Dad, Dr. Quadri, as you come to the end of this very long and rewarding chapter – even though you will continue to practice medicine – thank you for the tremendous surgical care you’ve delivered to our community and beyond. Thank you for showing your children the importance of helping other people and for being so invested in your career. Despite tremendously long hours ‘in surgery’ thank you for always being there on the sidelines to cheer us on at various extra curricular activities. We realize today how difficult it was for you to get there. You have healed, cared for and inspired so many people throughout the last forty years; all while being yourself, every step of the way. An amazing and rare achievement.