Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up. ~ James 4:10, KJV

Growing up, I witnessed my dad, Louis Smith, LLUSM class of 1949, challenging himself to become the best he could for “the school” – what he always called Loma Linda University. His parents valued education, and he determined to follow their example. After graduating from medical school, he immersed himself in a surgical residency at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.

Dad went on to complete a fellowship at Harvard University in Massachusetts, where he was part of the team that performed the first successful liver transplant in a dog. He returned to Loma Linda to become a professor of surgery, training many students and residents in the art of surgery.

Other than his academic accomplishments, what is it the staff and students who worked with Dr. Smith remember? Yes, they remember he was a great surgeon; but they love to recall that he would take the time to pull a patient up in the bed, straighten the covers, and make sure the patient was comfortable, as he would address the complexities of the patient’s treatment.

He would also remind the nurses and residents, “Always cut the tape,” when putting on a dressing. “If the patient sees you did a careful and neat job on the outside, they will know you did a careful job on the inside as well,” he would explain. While stitching in a new aorta or removing a dangerous plaque from a carotid artery, he never forgot to have the nurses call the family members in the waiting room. He remembered that they would be anxiously waiting for any news of their loved one.

His daily life was full of habits that revealed his care for patient concerns, not just surgical needs. Whether it was prayer in the vulnerable moments before a patient was wheeled into the operating room or picking up trash in the hallways of the medical center, he never wavered from his meticulous attention to detail. He never left a task undone.

Today, we call this “whole-patient care”; but to this pioneer of vascular/transplant surgery, it was just doing what Jesus modeled while on earth. Jesus showed us to wash the tired feet of His children. By caring for the whole person, my father was following his role model to the best of his ability.

As Henry Van Dyke said, “There is a loftier ambition that merely to stand high in the world. It is to stoop down and lift mankind a little higher.”

Patti Catalano, LLUSN class of 1976, is an operating room nurse with the LLUMC heart team. Her father, Louis L. Smith, was LLUSM Alumni Association president from 1986 to 1987. He was named LLUSM Alumni Association Alumnus of the Year in 2000 and LLUSM Alumnus of the Year in 1993; and was recipient of the LLUSM Distinguished Service Award in 2003.