Dr. Samuel Noordhoff, a highly respected American missionary and surgeon who spent 40 years fostering health care development in Taiwan, died Dec. 3 aged 91 in the U.S., according to the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation.
Born in 1927, Noordhoff trained at the University of Iowa before traveling with his family to Taiwan in 1959 to practice medicine and promote his faith. He became president of Mackay Memorial Hospital the following year and served at the Taipei City-based institution until 1976.
During this period, Noordhoff oversaw several health care milestones, including the establishment of the country’s first intensive care unit and burn, craniofacial treatment and polio rehabilitation centers. He is also credited with pioneering the local practice of psychosomatic medicine, an interdisciplinary field examining the impact of behavioral, psychological and social factors on quality of life.
For the subsequent 23 years, Noordhoff was president of Taipei-based Chang Gang Memorial Hospital and continued to play an instrumental role in enhancing the country’s medical sector until he moved back to the U.S. following retirement in 1999. He returned to Taiwan each year through 2013 to attend seminars and meetings with former patients before illness restricted his ability to travel.
Throughout his career, Noordhoff was committed to helping children with cleft lips and palates. In 1989, he donated US$100,000 to set up the NCF, which has since assisted more than 30,000 patients in Taiwan.
The foundation has also performed surgeries on 1,932 individuals in nine other nations, delivered numerous seminars for medical professionals and social workers, and trained 166 craniofacial specialists in 20 countries.
Noordhoff was awarded several state honors in recognition of his lifelong and selfless dedication to advancing health care in Taiwan. These include the Outstanding Medical Contribution Award from the Cabinet in 1996, as well as the Order of Brilliant Star with Violet Grand Cordon and the Presidential Cultural Award in 1999 and 2017, respectively, from the Office of the President.
In a post on her official Facebook page, President Tsai Ing-wen paid tribute to the late surgeon and expressed gratitude for his numerous contributions to local medical development. Noordhoff saw the country as his second home and will always be considered family by the people of Taiwan, she said. (SFC-E)