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ASCRS Mourns the Passing of Dr. Stuart H. Q. Quan

ASCRS Mourns the Passing of Dr. Stuart H. Q. Quan | ASCRS

ASCRS Mourns the Passing of Past President Stuart H. Q. Quan

The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons mourns the passing of Stuart H. Q. Quan, MD, who was ASCRS president in 1979 – 80.  Until his passing, Dr. Quan was the oldest living ASCRS past president.

Born in 1920, Dr. Quan graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1945, completed an internship in general surgery in 1946, completed his residency in pathology in 1949 and completed his colorectal surgery fellowship in 1952.  He joined ASCRS in 1962.

 Dr. Quan was a pioneer in improving patient treatment for rectal cancer in the 1950s. He spent 51 years at Memorial Sloan Kettering. His illustrious career included Chair, Colorectal Surgery and Vice Chair, Education and Development at Memorial Sloan Kettering. He was later named Emeritus Attending Surgeon and Emeritus Professor of Surgery.

In his communications to members at the 1980 Annual meeting, Dr. Quan urged members, especially those early in their careers, to actively participate in the Society and touched on the increasing complexity between medicine and government.

Dr. Quan’s obituary was published in the New York Times. His burial will be private. A celebration of his life will take place at a later date.

Dr. Quan is remembered fondly by those who knew him.

I had the pleasure of meeting Stuart H.Q. Quan for the first time in 1985 while rotating as a surgical resident on the Colorectal Service at MSKCC.  This was a tremendous learning experience for me, which served, in great part as the basis for why I am where I am today.

Stuart was a man of many virtues, but it was his even tempered and scientific approach to difficult and unique problems in colorectal and anal cancer management that allowed him to make many significant contributions.  Perhaps most notable was his seminal presentation in the 1950s on the topic of preoperative radiation therapy for rectal cancer which gave rise to a series of National Studies. This was a historic moment, which along with latter contributions, in conjunction with Drs. Michael Deddish and Maus Stearns, preceded our current management of rectal cancer by nearly half a century.  As a visionary and leader, Stuart attracted an extraordinary measure of support and pure affection from numerous societies leading to his Presidencies of the Society of Surgical Oncology and ultimately the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.  Stuart brought visibility to the field of colon and rectal surgery by serving as a referee and provider of intellectual and spiritual leadership. In fact, according to many, it was Stuart’s unwavering support and leadership of ASCRS that helped it weather difficult times in the early 1980s and positioned it to emerge as the world leading society that it is today.    

Over the years, I have had the privilege of taking care of many of Stuart’s friends and golfing partners and have been impressed by the overwhelming admiration, respect and love they had for him, even when he won the golfing tournament.  Stuart was truly a man for all seasons, a renaissance man, a wonderful mix of scientific leader, humanitarian and gifted surgeon with swift surgical prowess that lead to being fondly nicknamed the “Orient Express” by the operating room nurses. To his many patients, friends and colleagues it was his invariable dignity, compassion and basic kindness that made him such a gentleman’s gentleman.  However, what I appreciated most was his warm friendship, sage wisdom and dedicated mentoring.

I join ASCRS in mourning the lost one of our dear giants but take comfort reflecting on the illustrious career of Stuart H.Q. Quan and the lifelong lessons and virtues he left for us to learn from.  – Dr. Jose Guillem

He was a consummate doctor, teacher and friend. – Dr. Ernestine Hambrick

Another giant has gone to rest.  His contributions have taught us much and have allowed us to save many lives. His teaching continues to guide us.  I was honored to have known this gentle man. – Dr. Charles Littlejohn

Stuart was a giant amongst giants. He was instrumental in elevating the credibility of CRS in the surgical World. – Dr. Herand Abcarian

As a member of the NY Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery in the late 60s, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Quan several times. I attended some of his rounds and lectures. The man was a scholar and a leader in his field, a mentor to many and a perfect gentleman. – Dr. Daniel Rosenthal

My interactions with him at the New York Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons and at Roosevelt Hospital while a general surgery resident strongly influenced my decision to enter our specialty. He was a superb surgeon, a gifted educator, and a warm caring person. – Dr. Steven D. Wexner

He is one of the main reasons I, like many others, went into colon and rectal Surgery.  I never saw him angry. A gentler soul there never was.  – Bruce Wolff, MD