Sunday night at the Convocation, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) presented the 2018 Dr. Mary Edwards Walker Inspiring Women in Surgery Award to Yeu-Tsu Margaret Lee, MD, FACS.
The award was established by the ACS Women in Surgery Committee in 2016 and is named in honor of Mary Edwards Walker, MD (1832–1919), for her exemplary inspiration as the first woman surgeon to serve in the U.S. Army and the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor—the highest U.S. Armed Forces decoration for bravery. After the Civil War, Dr. Walker devoted her life to supporting women’s suffrage and was a frequent lecturer on health care, temperance, and women’s rights. Most notably, Dr. Walker was unwavering in her commitment to service to her country and the surgical profession, and repeatedly excelled in the face of significant adversity. Through Dr. Walker’s example of perseverance, excellence, and pioneering behavior, she paved the way for the women surgeons of today.
Dr. Lee was born and raised in mainland China and Taiwan. She came to the U.S. in 1955 and graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1961. She has worked as a general surgeon and a surgical oncologist for more than 50 years. In 1983, Dr. Lee moved to Hawaii, worked at Tripler Army Medical Center, and joined the U.S. Army Corps. She was deployed to Iraq during Operation Desert Storm and treated many U.S. soldiers as well as Iraqi prisoners of war. After retiring from the Army as a Colonel, she continued working as a clinical professor of surgery at the Medical School of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Whenever time allows, Dr. Lee has participated in medical missions to Ghana, Honduras, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, and other underserved countries. She has made many international trips to promote friendship and medical exchanges. Notably, in 1995 she was the leader of a Women Surgeons Delegation to Russia and Romania. The trip was a Citizen Ambassador Program sponsored by People to People International, which was established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on September 11, 1956.
Dr. Lee is a film buff who also enjoys music and tap dancing. From 1984 to 1999, she finished 16 marathons. Because her home is in Hawaii, midway between the East and West, she hopes to function as a “bridge,” contributing to global understanding, promoting communication, collaboration, and goodwill, and continues to work in the areas of medical education, international health, and world peace.
Committed to improving the care of the surgical patient, Dr. Lee is an outstanding leader and role model for surgeons everywhere. Her contributions to academic medicine, in surgery, in the military, and in surgical volunteerism worldwide have made a lasting impression on the surgical profession. Her passion, endless energy, and dedication to the ACS and to women in surgery are without equal.