American Surgical Association Transactions

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1924 - 2018

Donald G. Mulder, M.D., 1924 - 2018

We are saddened to announce the death of Donald G. Mulder, M.D. on April 4, 2018. Dr. Mulder was 94 years of age. A native of Hospers, Iowa, Dr. Mulder served as 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps from 1943-45. He did his undergraduate work at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where he was a star basketball player and he was an AOA graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1952. Following internship and two years of residency training at Hopkins, he completed his surgical residency at UCLA with Dr. William Polk Longmire, Jr., serving as the program's second chief resident in 1956-57.

Dr. Mulder joined the UCLA surgical faculty as an instructor in 1957 and rose through the professorial ranks to become full professor in 1976. He served as chief of the Division of Thoracic Surgery from 1976-82, as acting chair of the Department of Surgery in 1987-88, and as vice chair of Surgery from 1988 until his retirement in 1991. Dr. Mulder continued as an emeritus member of the teaching faculty until 2005.

A dedicated clinician-scientist, Dr. Mulder conducted early and important research in the use of cardiopulmonary bypass and devised and tested the first pump oxygenator used at UCLA. He was an avid and enthusiastic teacher. He was a doctor's doctor, a superb technical surgeon with a busy practice in cardiac and thoracic surgery, as well as clinical expertise and research interests in the surgery of myasthenia gravis, vascular surgery, and endocrine surgery. He wrote extensively about thymectomy for myasthenia and about many other topics in his fields of interest.

Dr. Mulder held important leadership positions in the School and University, including chair of the Faculty Executive Committee and member of the Legislative Assembly of the Academic Senate, among many others. His professional service was similarly extensive. He was a member of the Residency Review Committee in Surgery and a director of the American Board of Surgery; a director, and then chair, of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery; a governor of American College of Surgeons; president of the Los Angeles Surgical Society; vice president of the Pan-Pacific Surgical Association; and secretary of the Society of Clinical Surgery. He also held many positions in the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, American Heart Association, American Medical Association, Society of Thoracic Surgeons, and Thoracic Surgery Directors Association. Among his honors are included the Golden Apple Award from UCLA Medical Students for Best Teacher in 1969, the Hope College Alumnus Award of the Year in 1970 for Outstanding Achievement in Surgical Sciences, the Los Angeles County Heart Association Award of Merit in 1972, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association Award in 1972.

While these achievements are the conventional measures of an academic career, they are not the ones that Dr. Mulder himself would cite. Instead, he would speak about the countless trainees he taught, many of whom have gone on to prominent roles in surgery. He taught by personal example. Dr. Donald Mulder was truly an iconic surgeon who influenced others with his surgical prowess, kindness and respect towards students, residents and colleagues. I remember my first encounter with him when I was a second year surgical resident on the cardiac service and had the privilege to scrub on one of his cases. Despite the complexity, and severe condition of the patient; Dr. Mulder was the example of professionalism, collegiality, equanimity, and surgical perfection. What a role model he was! He had a rigorous intellect and a keen moral compass. His commitment to the academic mission and to his patients, colleagues, and students was steadfast. It was an incredible honor to work with him and we all are so grateful for what he has done for our school, our department, and most of all the patients whose lives he has saved and the residents and students he has trained.

Dr. Mulder was happily married to his college sweetheart, Barbara "Bobbe" Bilkert Mulder for seventy years. They had four children: Michelle (Jack), Bruce, Mark†, and Scott (Laura) and two grandchildren, Nathaniel and Kate. He was truly legendary and a hero to us all.