American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

2019 Surgical Humanitarianism Award: Donald E. Meier

Dr. Meier (far right) in front of Mbingo Baptist Hospital, Cameroon

Dr. Meier (far right) in front of Mbingo Baptist Hospital, Cameroon


Donald E. Meier, MD, FACS, a pediatric and general surgeon from Dallas, TX, received a Surgical Humanitarian Award for his decades of surgical, training, and education service around the world, primarily in West Africa.

After completing his surgical residency at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, and serving for two years in the U.S. Army, in 1982 Dr. Meier and his family joined Dr. Meier’s friend John Tarpley, MD, FACS, FWACS, at the Baptist Medical Centre, Ogbomosho, Nigeria. Alongside Dr. Tarpley, he worked as a true general surgeon, performing urology, otorhinolaryngology, neurological, pediatric, plastic, and orthopaedic surgical procedures. He worked as a practicing surgeon and physician in this low-resource setting until 1999, periodically returning to the U.S. to rejoin faculty at UT Southwestern, but his most lasting accomplishments came through educating generations of African residents and faculty to help establish a self-sustaining training program, particularly in Nigeria.

During his 17 years in Nigeria, Dr. Meier was one of the educators in the general surgery tract of the general medical practice residency program, teaching residents and medical students to provide quality surgery with limited resources. Dr. Meier was a key surgeon working with the Nigerian College of General Medical Practice, a group created to address the needs of Nigerians in rural areas where access to care is limited, to improve surgical capacity and care in those settings. Dr. Meier chose to focus on this area of great need in the 1990s, decades before providing aid in rural, low-income settings would become a focus in global surgery. Physicians who Dr. Meier trained provide fundamental surgical care, including Caesarean sections, emergency obstetrics, incarcerated hernia procedures, and so on, at a district level in various states across Nigeria. Many of the physicians he trained are now health care leaders in the country.

Throughout his career, Dr. Meier continued to broaden his skill set for the sake of surgical patients. At age 50, after many years of active practice, he saw the acute need for pediatric surgeons in Africa and returned to the U.S. and became the first pediatric surgery fellow at Children’s Medical Center, Dallas. After completing his board certification in pediatric surgery, he returned to Nigeria to care for children and to teach local physicians safe pediatric surgical techniques.

After training in pediatric surgery, Dr. Meier completed many short-term mission trips to resource-poor areas such as Kosovo, Albania, Afghanistan, and Haiti, as well as other African nations, including Cameroon and Ethiopia. In 2003, Dr. Meier moved to El Paso, TX, which at the time had no pediatric surgeons, to establish pediatric surgical services. For several years after his arrival in El Paso, he was the only pediatric surgeon in a metropolitan area that served more than 1 million people. Dr. Meier has since participated in establishing a local medical school and children’s hospital.

Robert E. Cropsey, MD, FACS

Robert E. Cropsey, MD, FACS
Robert E. Cropsey, MD, FACS