Steven J. Meyer, MD, Receives AAOS 2020 Humanitarian Award

Provided Care to the Underserved in Tanzania for More Than 20 Years Published 11/11/20

Dr. Meyer
Dr. Meyer

Like many professional organizations, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgery recognizes the outstanding humanitarian efforts of their members. In 2020 they honored Dr. Steven J. Meyer of Dakota Dunes, South Dakota for his more than 20 years of work in Tanzania, helping to “improve the human condition by alleviating suffering and supporting and contributing to the basic human dignity of those in need.”

In a special edition of their monthly newsletter, AAOS Now, dedicated to this year’s online annual conference, they wrote the following:

Dr. Meyer examining a young patient in Tanzania
Dr. Meyer examining a young patient in Tanzania (STEMM)

Dr. Meyer and his wife, Dana, first traveled to Tanzania in 1996 on a three-week mission with their church. They were so moved by the country’s lack of health care and education that within six months of their return to the United States, they established Siouxland Tanzania Educational Medical Ministries (STEMM). The nonprofit organization is dedicated to bringing medical care and educational opportunities to the East African nation.

Initially, STEMM’s goal was for Dr. Meyer to travel once a year to Tanzania with medical teams to train the country’s eight orthopaedic surgeons. Today, the country has nearly 40 orthopaedic surgeons who serve a population of approximately 56 million, and Dr. Meyer has been to Tanzania more than 50 times.

Dr. Meyer discussing hospital needs
Dr. Meyer discussing hospital needs (STEMM)

During their inaugural mission, Dr. Meyer and his medical team performed the country’s first orthopaedic surgery in Arusha, one of Tanzania’s most populated cities. “Our instruments were sterilized in a pan on a hot plate,” he recalled. Just seven years later, in 2003, he performed the first total hip replacement in the country, and in 2004, the first total knee replacement. “Our introduction and advancement of joint arthroplasty, in collaboration with Lawrence D. Dorr, MD, and Operation Walk, has affected hundreds of individuals and their families in Tanzania,” Dr. Meyer said.

Read the full article on the AAOS Now website.

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