Leaving a Legacy – The passing of Dr. William Samis

13 06 2013

The Montreal Gazette April 30th 1975On June 12th 2013, we lost a very good man and a groundbreaking surgeon – Dr. William Samis.  In 1975, he became  the first ophthalmologist in Ontario to perform phacoemulsification surgery for cataract patients and one of the first in the world to adopt this then groundbreaking technique and associated lens implants.  Indeed a visionary, he cultivated an environment which bred future leaders in the his field.  I joined his practice (partnered with Dr. Steve Arshinoff MD) in 2005 and was touched by his generosity as a human being, his style and sense of humour.  Unbeknownst to him, I absorbed a great deal from this man as an eye doctor and as a person through his words of wisdom and through the eyes of his patients, many of which I adopted after he stopped seeing patients from being ill 2 years ago.  Each an everyone would comment on his candor and caliber as a friend first, and a physician second and every last one would sing his praises as a surgeon decades after having had cataract surgery by his hands.

I like to think I’ve learned even an ounce of what this man had taught me and the many surgeons who walked through his doors or were privileged enough to have learned their surgical skills as his resident.

I have a hard time accepting that he is gone, however I have a harder time believing that for 6 years I was able to work closely with a true game changer – an individual who literally transformed modern eye surgery to make it faster, safer while producing better outcomes.    Some people wish to win a lottery – I believe I did.

My deepest sympathies go out to his family, his wife Jane, and dear friend and colleague Dr. Steve Arshinoff.  We were all in the presence of greatness.

RM

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