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Dr. Darioush Nasseri, orthopedic surgeon at Baltimore’s Good Samaritan Hospital, dies of coronavirus

Dr. Darioush Nasseri specialized in surgery for hip and knee replacements.
Dr. Darioush Nasseri specialized in surgery for hip and knee replacements.

Dr. Darioush Nasseri, a retired orthopedic surgeon who practiced at Good Samaritan Hospital, died April 11 of complications of the coronavirus. The former Lutherville resident was 84.

His son, Kurosh Nasseri, said his father died at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.

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Born in Iran, he was the son of Ali Asghar and Fatameh Nasseri. He attended Alborz High School in Tehran and earned an undergraduate degree at St. Andrews University in Scotland. He went on for additional study in orthopedics at the University of Bonn School of Medicine in Germany.

His son said that while practicing medicine at Bonn, Dr. Nasseri and other physicians were part of the the team that pioneered an early hip transplant in the early 1970s.

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"His team traveled throughout the U.S. to lecture about the new procedure,” his son said.

During this lecture tour, Dr. Nassei met Dr. David S. Hungerford, a Johns Hopkins orthopedic surgeon. They later became close friends.

In 1973 Dr. Nasseri returned to Iran and established his orthopedic practice at the Shafa Orthopedics Hospital in Tehran. Several years later, Dr. Hungerford was part of a group of academic medical scholars visiting Iran, and he reconnected with Dr. Nasseri.

During Christmas of 1978, Dr. Nasseri and his wife, Nina, came to the U.S. to visit their son, a student at American University in Washington, D.C.

“It was also around that time that the political unrest in Iran was escalating dangerously, which led to the 1979 Islamic Revolution,” his son said. “My parents had to abandon their entire life while on holiday and never returned to their homeland in Iran.”

In a speech Dr. Nasseri gave at his retirement, he said of that experience, “Essentially, we were forced to start life over again with little more than a suitcase each.” He later joked that he permanently borrowed his son’s car.

He said that he was offered his old position at the University Hospital in Bonn, Germany, but his wife urged him to explore opportunities in the United States.

“I was quite reluctant to do so because as a foreign doctor I would have to pass exams before being able to practice here,” he said in his talk.

Dr. Nasseri said he was encouraged by a visit to the Johns Hopkins Hospital, where physicians said they had a place for him.

“My father had to build his entire life over,” his son said. “His medical licenses were all from Germany and Iran, so he had to study for all of his exams again in order to be re-certified in the U.S. He accomplished this in 1981.”

During this time he reconnected with Dr. Hungerford, who was on the Hopkins staff and who offered him a position in the Orthopedic Surgery Department. In 1981 Dr. Nasseri also joined the staff at Good Samaritan Hospital.

Dr. Nasseri practiced at Johns Hopkins and later at MedStar Orthopedics/Good Samaritan Hospital until his retirement in 2016.

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In his retirement remarks, Dr. Nasseri said his time at the hospital “has truly been a pleasure, an honor and a privilege for me. I feel so privileged and humbled by the opportunities."

A hospital biography said he was a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, fellowship-trained in joint replacement. He specialized in arthroscopic surgery for hip and knee replacements. He also worked in cartilage restoration techniques and took additional study at the Mayo Clinic and at hospitals in Russia and China.

His son described his father: “He was a happy, caring person and was a mentor and supportive of his medical students. He was jovial and friendly and had a wide circle of friends."

In 2014 Dr. Nasseri was given the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for his contributions to the field of orthopedics.

Dr. Nasseri traveled extensively and was a fan of Formula One auto racing. He and his son attended the Canadian Grand Prix on several occasions.

A memorial has been created in his name at the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 respond fund.

Plans for a service are incomplete.

Dr. Nasseri is survived by his wife of 62 years, Nina Shafazand, who worked with him in his medical practice and was earlier am attache at the Iranian Embassy in Bonn. In addition to his son, survivors include three grandchildren.

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