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Avalanche claims life of ASPS member in India

Anthony Sudekum, MD, O'Fallon, Mo., died at the age of 63, on or around May 26, while attempting to climb Nanda Devi East – the second-tallest peak in the Indian Himalayan range. He was one of an international group of eight experienced mountaineers, led by renowned mountain climber Michael Moran of England, who led more than 40 Himalayan ascents. The group perished in an avalanche, although the remote nature of the area made it impossible to determine exactly when the avalanche struck.

Tony's practice was primarily in hand surgery. He was director of the Missouri Hand Center in O'Fallon, and he was president and director of Midwest Special Surgery, P.C. He was beloved by his staff and patients, and he was known as a wonderful teacher, an excellent surgeon, a mentor and a generous boss.

Dr. Sudekum concentrated on job-related injuries, as well as nerve-compression syndromes – although he was well-versed in all manner of reconstruction.

Dr. Sudekum graduated from the University of California-Berkeley with a B.A. in marine biology and earned a Masters in zoology at the University of Hawaii – which is where I met him, as a fellow graduate student studying the coral reef ecology of the northwest Hawaiian Islands. In Hawaii, his studies involved fieldwork with numerous SCUBA trips to remote islands where sharks were encountered daily. His Master's work involved large, predatory jacks – a fish that can weigh up to 180 pounds.

He earned his M.D. at the University of Missouri and then spent three years in a general surgery residency at Stanford (Calif.) Medical Center, where he developed an interest in limb surgery. He completed clinical and research fellowships in hand and microsurgery at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, and he completed his plastic surgery residency at Dartmouth. He later completed an additional hand and upper-extremity fellowship at Cleveland Clinic.

Tony was dedicated to public service, having participated in medical mission trips to Nepal, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Tanzania, Indonesia and Vietnam. He volunteered in more than 18 medical mission trips during his career.

Tony was an avid outdoorsman and athlete. His hobbies included SCUBA, surfing, snow- boarding, biking, yoga and trail running. His passion for mountain climbing led him to the world's highest peaks – many of which were scaled as side trips during his mission work. He was the medical officer for several mountaineering expeditions, including philanthropic-themed missions to raise awareness of child exploitation, and to raise funds for fresh-water drilling to underserved areas of Africa.

Tony is survived by three daughters and a son, ages 19-28, all of whom shared in his adventures – and he leaves a legacy of adventure, public service and excellent medical care to his patients.