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Johns Hopkins Alumnus Richard Bransford Honored for Humanitarian Work with Disabled Children - 05/31/2012

Johns Hopkins Alumnus Richard Bransford Honored for Humanitarian Work with Disabled Children

Release Date: May 31, 2012

The Johns Hopkins Alumni Association has bestowed its Knowledge for the World Award to Richard Bransford, M.D., a 1967 graduate of The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

The award is given once every two years to distinguished alumni for their humanitarian achievements. Bransford is one of two recipients. The other honoree is James Hildreth, M.D., a 1987 graduate.

Bransford’s work as a globe-trotting surgeon and a medical missionary has touched the lives of thousands of disabled children in some of the world’s most disadvantaged regions. His career spans more than three decades and many countries.

“Dr. Bransford’s tireless efforts to transform the lives of disadvantaged children from all over the world have not merely changed the lives of thousands but also exemplify the best of humanitarian traditions and the spirit of The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine,” says Edward Miller, M.D., dean of medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, who also nominated Bransford for this honor. “His extreme selflessness is a virtue we should celebrate in our community and hold up as a model.”

After serving brief periods as a missionary surgeon at the Centre Medical Evangelique in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Comoros, Bransford and his family moved to Kenya in 1977. He served as chief of surgery and obstetrics-gynecology in the Comoro Islands before his appointment as surgeon and rehabilitation surgeon at Kijabe Hospital in Kenya in 1978, where he later became program director of pediatric rehabilitation surgery.

In 1998, Bransford founded the Bethany Crippled Children’s Centre adjacent to the hospital and served as its medical director and rehabilitation pediatric surgeon until 2004. The center is a 36-bed facility that provides treatment for a wide range of conditions, such as burn contractures, hydrocephalus, spina bifida, cleft lip and cleft palate, club feet, polio, hypospadias, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophies. Working in conjunction with its primary sponsoring agency, Bethany Relief and Rehabilitation International, the staff has helped develop mobile health clinics throughout Kenya, and train pediatric nurses and refugees who are orthopedic technicians in the construction of simple braces. 

In 2004, Bransford co-founded BethanyKids at Kijabe Hospital, a 67-bed facility that has become widely known in Africa as a referral center for disabled children and is supported by a network of 14 outreach clinics across Kenya.

Bransford has also provided surgical care during disasters and crises elsewhere in Africa, including in Rwanda, Somalia, southern Sudan and Zaire.

Bransford is the 2010 recipient of the American College of Surgeons/Pfizer Surgical Humanitarianism Award and the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation Dr. Nathan Davis International Award in Medicine, presented in association with Pfizer, Inc.  The award is part of the AMA’s Excellence in Medicine Awards program and is presented to a physician who has dramatically improved health care internationally.

Bransford served in the U.S. Air Force and received a degree in tropical medicine from the Prince Leopold School of Tropical Medicine in Belgium.

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