Dr. William I. Norwood

April 21, 1941 – Dec 13, 2020

 

On Sunday, December 13th, 2020, legendary surgeon Dr. William Imon Norwood, Jr. “Bill”, sadly passed away at the age of 79.

 

“ Think about the Golden Ratio and its variants not only in nature’s designs, but also in biological numbers and perhaps even physiological data.”

     Bill Norwood, MD, PhD, heart surgeon and biophysicist

 

My long time mentor and friend Dr. Bill Norwood whispered this insight to me as we chatted during a wintry day earlier this year when I visited him in Albuquerque with a colleague.

Dr. Norwood is arguably the most brilliant pediatric heart surgeon who ever operated on neonates and children (he designed, probably with the Golden Ratio as an inspiration, the eponymous palliative reconstructive surgery for an impossibly complicated congenital heart defect known as the Norwood operation for hypoplastic left heart syndrome).

For me, he is also the most intelligent and intellectual heart surgeon that I have ever met or worked with. During my training as a pediatric cardiologist under his tutelage, he introduced me to chaos theory and biomedical data in the context of signals in the noise more than three decades ago.

I am forever grateful that I timely traveled to New Mexico to see him just as the news of the coronavirus started to invade here. He passed away this past week and I lost a very special teacher who not only taught me the wondrous complexities of congenital heart disease and surgery these past decades, but also enigmatic nuances and wondrous magic of numbers in biomedicine.

During these past few days, I fully realized that we need to seek our former mentors for their wisdom that has gone silent to the world, and not solely be impressed with the current paradigms for intellectual inspiration.

Dr. William Norwood was a preeminent force in innovation who embodied the unrelenting drive to break the status quo and unparalleled courage to develop new strategies. He will be greatly missed.