David I. Sandberg, MD, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and McGovern School of Medicine at UTHealth, has been honored by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons as the 2019 recipient of the AANS Humanitarian Award.
The Humanitarian Award is one of the highest honors bestowed by the AANS and recognizes Dr. Sandberg’s selfless contributions and extraordinary work with children suffering from neurosurgical disorders throughout the world. Since 1999, Dr. Sandberg has organized or participated in 19 international humanitarian pediatric neurosurgical missions, including visits to Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Uganda, and Haiti, where he has volunteered on 10 separate occasions through Project Medishare.
“We all go into medicine to try and make a difference in the world and help people,” Dr. Sandberg said. “I never expected an award. I am humbled to be included on the AANS list of people who have made great contributions.”
A majority of Dr. Sandberg’s humanitarian trips have focused on treating indigent children and educating local neurosurgeons to improve their ability to provide care. Dr. Sandberg typically sees 50 to 60 patients and performs surgery on approximately 25 children.
With the help of donors and volunteers, Dr. Sandberg has brought several children back to the United States for life-saving treatment for brain tumors that could not be adequately managed in their home countries.
“I hope to continue making great contributions which level the playing field. Our country is very lucky and we have a lot of privilege. Though there is plenty of poverty in the United States, the poverty in other countries is on a totally different level. It’s a great privilege to be able to help.”
Dr. Sandberg has lectured numerous times at pediatric neurosurgery meetings throughout Central and South America in Spanish, frequently visiting hospitals there simultaneously to provide assistance and education to local neurosurgeons and trainees. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for International Education in Neurological Surgery, which addresses the critical lack of trained neurosurgeons in developing countries through hands-on training and education.
Dr. Sandberg is also at the forefront of groundbreaking neurological research, which is currently focused on direct infusion of chemotherapy to recurring malignant brain tumors through the fourth ventricle in people aged 1 to 21, a method which he has pioneered in that area of the brain.