Augusto Sarmiento, MD (1927-2023)

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Augusto Sarmiento MD; he was 95 years old. Dr. Sarmiento was one of the founding members of The Hip Society.

Educated in his native Colombia, Dr. Sarmiento immigrated to the United States not long after receiving his medical degree. His early years were difficult as he struggled to overcome the language barrier, and he often encountered prejudice regarding his medical training in Latin America. After feeling like an outsider for many years, he came to realize that his unorthodox perspective on medicine could be used to make significant contributions to his specialty. After working with John Charnley, he was among the pioneers who brought total hip replacement surgery to the United States, and his research improved the profession's understanding of the way fractures heal. In recognition of his many contributions to orthopaedics, in 1991, he was elected President of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

“I believe my most important contribution was the clinical and laboratory research on fracture healing in diaphyseal bones, and the healthy role that functionally-controlled motion plays in enhancing osteogenesis. This work led me to develop a functional treatment system that frees the joints adjacent to the fracture, and encourages gradually increased activity. Also, my failed attempt to develop the first hip prosthesis made of a titanium alloy was an important contribution.” (Augusto Sarmiento, MD, interview with Healio, 2014)

Dr. Sarmiento was not only one of the founding members of The Hip Society but also its President in 1976-1977 and in 1977-1978.  When he was interviewed for The Hip Society’s 50th Anniversary Project, to the question “What has the Society meant to you?”, he responded:  “The close contact with the leadership of hip surgery, and the lessons I learned from them, was an eye-opener of great importance. Having been given the opportunity to participate in the growth of the discipline, I found myself involved in education to a major degree. Serving for two consecutive years as its President was an unforgettable experience.  My involvement in the creation of the International Hip Society was a major event. As President of The Hip Society, I was deeply involved in the discussion that led to its final structuring. The event took place in Copenhagen, Denmark, attended by a handful of members of The Hip Society and several European orthopaedists, whose contributions to hip surgery are legendary.”

Dr. Sarmiento served as Professor and Chairman of Orthopaedics at the University of Miami and the University of Southern California. He was a recipient of the prestigious Kappa Delta Award, the Nicolas Andry Award, the John Charnley Award, the Elmer Nix Ethics Award, and the Cruz de Boyaca Award - Colombia’s highest civilian award. Dr. Sarmiento also authored several books based on his experience as an orthopaedic surgeon.  His books reflect his critical and divergent thinking leading to novel, sometimes provocative, perspectives and solutions.

In a poignant article that he published in the Journal of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Research (JORR), 2019, in which he examined and documented his own physical decline brought on by the aging process, he wrote:  “The curtains will soon come down, and the tears of a few will run down their cheeks.  The pain that goes along will not be the same among them, but the sincerity equal.”

Though the curtains have come down for Dr. Sarmiento, let us all remember, with gratitude and respect, this giant who once walked amongst us.