M. Samuel Noordhoff, 54MD, a world leader in cleft lip and palate surgery, has literally brought smiles to the faces of countless children throughout Southeast Asia.
After graduating from the UI College of Medicine in 1954, Noordhoff completed residencies in general and plastic surgery. His entire professional career was spent in Taiwan, where, as superintendent of Mackay Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, he accomplished many healthcare firsts, including establishing an intensive care unit, a burn unit, polio rehabilitation clinic, and immunization services.
Noordhoff also developed a residency program in plastic surgery with his primary interest in craniofacial surgery. Today, the internationally famous Craniofacial Center at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital has provided services for more than 12,000 cleft patients in the past 22 years.
For patients who could not afford surgery, Noordhoff founded in 1989 the nonprofit Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation (NCF) in Taiwan. The NCF expanded operations to the Philippines, Cambodia, and Vietnam in 1999, providing doctors, trained local surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, social workers, speech pathologists, and orthodontists to treat patients in these developing countries. Thanks to Noordhoff and the foundation he created, more than 10,000 children in Taiwan, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines have benefited from surgery and care.
Although Noordhoff retired from active surgery in 1999, he continues his involvement in raising funds, training surgeons, and overseeing the treatment of patients. He has ensured that his work will continue and that future generations of patients will receive the care they need through NCF.
Noordhoffs career has been distinguished by teaching appointments, honorary memberships, and scholarly publications. Special honors include the prestigious Jacques W. Maliniac Lecture (1994), Outstanding Medical Contribution Award by the Ministry of Health Executive Yuan (1966), Order of the Brilliant Star with the Violet Cordon in 1999 (the highest government civilian award presented by the Republic of China), and the Health Medal of First Class Award given by the Ministry of Health, R.O.C. (1999). He also received honorary awards from the Cleft Lip Palate-Craniofacial Association in 2000 and the American Society of Maxillofacial Surgery in 2006 for his leadership, his willingness to share his knowledge through teaching, and his continuous commitment to the field of maxillofacial surgery.
Although the UI graduates life and mission have taken him far from his hometown of Orange City, Iowa, Noordhoffs dedication to excellence and to helping others embodies the very best of Midwestern and University of Iowa values. Says Jeffrey C. Murray, professor and vicechair of research for pediatrics in the UI Carver College of Medicine, Dr. Noordhoff is unique in both a personal commitment he has brought to improving the lives of children in Southeast Asia as well as the technical and medical skill he has provided. He is a genuine physician, scientist, and humanitarian.
Henry R. Mol, a classmate and fellow graduate of the Class of 1954 who has remained a lifelong friend, says, Most of us hope that by our living, we have made this world a little better, but Sam Noordhoff, through his perseverance, intelligence, sense of compassion . . . and faith, has made a fantastic difference in the world.
Samuel Noordhoff is an annual member of the UI Alumni Association.