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In Memory of Dr. Joseph Tepas, III
In Memory of Dr. Joseph Tepas, III In Memory of Dr. Joseph Tepas, III In Memory of Dr. Joseph Tepas, III

On December 20, 2019, we lost a true "voice for the injured child." Throughout his long career, Joseph J. Tepas, III, MD committed his time and talents to addressing the number one killer of children trauma. Following his fellowship in pediatric surgery at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Tepas became head of the Division of Pediatric Surgery at Naval Regional Medical Center, Portsmouth, VA. In 1983, he joined the faculty of University of Florida - Jacksonville dedicating his life to the care of ill and injured children. "JJT" was instrumental in founding the pediatric trauma program in Jacksonville and was critical to the development of Florida's state trauma system and the first pediatric-specific trauma registry, the National Pediatric Trauma Registry. He was a surgeon dedicated to his patients who also understood the importance of evidence to inform decisions.

While trauma and neonatal surgery were his passions, his true loves were his wife, Jean, his three children, Kate, Joe, and Meghan, and their families. He enjoyed sailing, hiking in National Parks, and riding his antique Raleigh bike. Dr. Tepas was an annual participant in the Katie Ride for Life, a long-distance cycling event founded by the family of a teenager who succumbed to a traumatic brain injury and, as an organ donor, saved many lives. Ironically, Joe himself became the recipient of organ donation after he was diagnosed with advanced Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and underwent a life-saving double lung transplant in 2014.

President Richard Falcone invited Dr. Tepas to give the keynote address at the second annual meeting of the Pediatric Trauma Society in Scottsdale, AZ a little over a year after his transplant. JJT shared his story in the emotional presentation "Return on Investment: 30 Years of Commitment to the Injured Child." That year he also received the first PTS Lifetime Achievement Award and, thanks to generous donations in his honor, the Tepas Research Award was created. The award was first presented during the third annual PTS meeting in recognition of the best research in pediatric trauma in honor of Dr. Tepas' life-long contributions to research in pediatric trauma.

Although 73 years seems a long time to many of us, it was too soon for JJT to end the battle to reduce the burden of injury in children. Members of the Pediatric Trauma Society can continue to honor him by emulating his values and his passion for excellence in teaching and practicing compassionate care for the injured child. PTS would like to thank his family who, recognizing the depth of his professional passion, have requested donations in Dr. Tepas' name to the Pediatric Trauma Society Education Fund in lieu of flowers.

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