Dr. David S. Hungerford, a retired orthopedic surgeon who was a pioneer in hip and knee replacements, died of complications of brain cancer related to a melanoma Saturday at his Cockeysville home. He was 80.
Born in Rochester, N.Y., he was the son of Samuel Hungerford, a school principal and his wife, Marjorie. He was raised in of Sodus, N.Y.
“As a child he was severely burned when he was loading coal in a furnace,” said his son, Dr. Marc Hungerford of Cockeysville. He was treated by a small-town doctor who made daily visits to his home. He knew that he wanted to dedicate his life to helping others in the same way.” .
Another son, Dr. Lars Hungerford of San Diego, said: “He was a real people person and an extreme extrovert. He loved to be around people and loved to tell stories. He was extremely positive. He wore rose-colored glasses. There was no such thing as problems with him. There were solutions that hadn’t been discovered yet.
“His patients routinely became his lifelong friends. He liked to joke and have fun. He didn’t take himself too seriously.”
Dr. Hungerford received a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University and studied neurophysiology at the Institut Claude Bernard in Paris while a U.S. Public Health Service postgraduate fellow.
On a skiing trip in France, he met his future wife, Uta-Heide Jung, who was on a holiday. He did not speak German and she could not speak English. They compromised on French.
A graduate of the University of Rochester School of Medicine, he did an internship and a surgical residency at Strong Memorial Hospital at the University of Rochester. He went on to be an orthopedic surgeon with the Army Medical Corps in Germany from 1966 through 1969 and worked in orthopedic surgery at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Oxford, England.
In 1972 he moved to Baltimore and did a residency in orthopedic surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital and joined the faculty of Hopkins Medical School
While at Hopkins he was chief of the scoliosis clinic and chief of the division of arthritis surgery. In 1986 he was named a full professor.
He was also named chief of orthopedic surgery at Good Samaritan Hospital, where he established a large practice. In 2000, his patients established a professorship in orthopedic surgery in his name at Hopkins School of Medicine.
“He leaves a tremendous legacy at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital,” Brad Chambers, its president, said in a statement. “His life-long desire to relieve suffering prompted him to continually seek new treatment methods and investigate innovative ways to bring healing and comfort to his patients.
“Dr. Hungerford truly is a Good Samaritan as he shared his knowledge and skills not only by building our Orthopaedic Department, but also by training orthopaedic surgeons in third-world countries during his mission trips.”
Dr. Hungerford was a joint specialist. He worked in joint replacement, revision surgeries, diagnosis and treatment of osteonecrosis, and cartilage regeneration.
He and Robert Kenna, a medical engineer, developed a porous coated anatomic total knee replacement and presented results of its two-year use in 1982. This artificial knee replacement allowed patients’ bone cells to grow into the prosthesis, resulting in a more stable joint. They also created a universal instrument kit, a set of medical tools used in knee replacement surgery.
A member of CURE International, Dr. Hungerford trained orthopedic surgeons throughout Africa to address conditions such as clubfoot, bowed legs and cleft lips.
He helped create hospitals in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and the Caribbean.
“He provided state-of-the-art hip and knee surgeries in some of the poorest countries to the neediest patients,” a Johns Hopkins biography said.
He retired from Johns Hopkins and Good Samaritan in 2011.
“I spent a summer with my father in his lab,” said another son, Kyle Hungerford of Summerville, S.C. “He was optimistic and easygoing. He was always a fun, loving person. He was humble and while he became so good at what he did, he never changed his small-town outlook. One of the things he loved about orthopedics was improving people’s quality of life. He could literally take people from a wheelchair to a tennis court.”
Dr. Hungerford received the 2013 Humanitarian Award of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons for having distinguished himself through outstanding humanitarian services. The Hopkins University trustees named him a professor emeritus in 2014.
Dr. Hungerford was the author of numerous journal articles, chapters and books in his field. He used the royalties from his medical patents to fund the Tree of Life Foundation, which provided money to small-scale entrepreneurs in Third World countries.
A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Central Presbyterian Church, York Road and Stevenson Lane, where he was a member.
In addition to his three sons, survivors include his wife of more than 56 years; a brother, Dan Hungerford of Atlanta; a sister, Nancy Hungerford Ransley of Sodus; and six grandchildren.