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The University of Miami made history after it named Haitian-born pediatric surgeon Dr. Henri Ford dean of the Miller School of Medicine. Ford is the first Haitian-American doctor to head a medical school in the United States. The appointment is one of many milestones Dr. Ford has reached throughout his prolific career. He’s best known for making history in Haiti back in 2015 when he separated conjoined twins on the nation island.
“That example is a combination of what is possible when you’re committed to excellence and committed trying to build an infrastructure,” Dr. Ford said about that historic procedure.
The surgeon emigrated from the Caribbean nation to Brooklyn at 13 years old. He graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Medical School. He worked for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles for more than a decade and served as the institution’s Vice President and Chief of Surgery.
Dr. Ford will begin his role at UM June 1st. He called the appointment a surprise.
“I never thought that was going to happen, but here we are!” the surgeon said.
Moving to South Florida is sort of a homecoming for the doctor since the area is home to the largest population of Haitians in the U.S.
“It really feels like a homecoming,” said Dr. Ford. “Wherever I go, a number of people have expressed a desire to meet me; it really warms my heart.”
The surgeon doesn’t forget his roots. Ever since the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Dr. Ford travels to his native country several times a year to lend his special services as a pediatrician.
“I felt I was uniquely positioned, uniquely qualified to intervene personally in Haiti at the time. It wasn’t about sending money, they needed my skills,” said Dr. Ford. “We pretty much handle all of the pediatric and surgical critical care.”
He wants to bring that same dedication to the UM health care community.
“My desire has always been to make the biggest difference possible in the lives of others in my community. And, what better opportunity exist than to help the University of Miami and Miller School of Medicine achieve enduring preeminence while at the same time serving a community of people that means so much to me,” Ford expressed.
The surgeon encourages others to dream big and to go after those big dreams no matter their circumstance.
“Yes, it is possible for a French-speaking, funny-looking Haitian kid that ends up in Brooklyn can ultimately can grow up and become the Dean at the Miller School of Medicine. Why not you?” Ford said.