Martin Spoor Remembered

Martin Spoor Remembered

To a colleague who joked that he was too nice a guy to be a cardiothoracic surgeon, Martin Spoor just smiled. “It doesn’t hurt to be nice,” he said. It’s a word that comes up repeatedly in the stream of e-mail condolences that poured into the University of Michigan in the wake of a plane crash that killed Spoor and five other members of a UM Survival Flight crew on June 4.

“He never had an unkind word about anyone, quiet, softspoken, humble,” wrote a former medical-school classmate of Spoor’s.

A colleague at the UM Medical School, where Spoor had been a faculty member since 2003, said, “He was the kind of person all of us would hope to be, patient, compassionate and caring, and good at what he did.”

Spoor, 37, was due to graduate in August from the School of Public Health, where he was enrolled in the On Job/On Campus program in Clinical Research Design and Statistical Analysis. The school will award his degree posthumously.

Biostatistician Trivellore Raghunathan, who taught Spoor at SPH, remembered the Pennsylvania-born physician as “always cheerful, very unassuming, and many times wearing his cowboy boots.” More than anything, Raghunathan relished Spoor’s sense of humor. “He would come down to me during the break and ask me a question and would drop in these one-liners that made you chuckle—a very welcome relief during the long OJOC teaching hours. I am so happy that I got to know him.”

Spoor was one of two transplant surgeons aboard the eight-seat Cessna jet that plunged into Lake Michigan shortly after taking off from Milwaukee. The crew was racing to Ann Arbor with organs for a patient in need of a transplant. With assistance from other transplant programs, the UM Health System was able to obtain another organ and perform a successful transplant for the patient, who is doing well. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the possible causes of the crash.

Fellow SPH student Preeti Malani, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the UM Health System, said Spoor sometimes came late to class because he was taking his children somewhere. Spoor and his wife, Susan, a physician, have two girls and a boy.

“He always had several hockey sticks and other equipment in his car, and his love for hockey was transmitted to his children,” Malani remembered. “He built them an ice rink in the backyard. He had a nice, quiet, unflappable demeanor, but what he did he did with his heart.”

To honor his memory, the SPH Department of Biostatistics has established a scholarship fund for OJOC students, the Martin Spoor Fund for Training in Clinical Research. Learn more or make a contribution.

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