Kristaps Juris Keggi - My Latvian Activities Summary

Autors Kristaps J. Keggi, M.D., Dr. Med. (h.c.) Senior Research Scientist Elihu Emeritus Professor of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Yale University School of Medicine .

LĀZA biedrs, izcils ārsts, skolotājs un mecenāts Kristaps Juris Keggi 2019. gada 9. augustā Rīgā atzīmēja savu 85 dzimšanas dienu, bet jau 2018. gadā uzrakstīja visu, ko pats vēlējās pastāstīt par savu saikni ar Latviju un medicīnu. Pilns raksts lasāms LĀZA Apkārtrakstā nr 167

Kristaps Keggi with son of one of his residentsWhile in Moscow at the Good Will Games in 1986 to watch daughter Mara row for the US, I met some Latvian rowers, judges and trainers who told me about the positive changes in the USSR and Viktor Kalnberzs one of the leading Academic Surgeons in the USSR. They encouraged me to come visit him. In November of 1987 I was invited by Professor Jansons to come to the first International Orthopaedic Meeting in Riga. I flew over, via Moscow, gave my talk in Latvian and performed a hip replacement under somewhat primitive conditions, but it was good enough to persuade Viktor we should be working together. So during the winter and spring of 1988 we worked out a very formal agreement between the USSR and the USA, the USSR Academy of Science (Medicine), Yale University, The Latvian Hospital for Traumatology and Orthopaedics, the Waterbury Hospital and the Keggi Orthopaedic Foundation (which I established in the spring of 1988)  Nobody had any objections and signed all the documents, as long as they did not have to pay for it, nor run it......that became the task of the Foundation.

The Keggi Orthopaedic Foundation was funded by me, but eventually we were also  able to solicit help from all the American Orthopaedic Manufacturing Companies and quarterly donations from friends and patients who were sent a newsletter about our activities. The Waterbury Hospital generously provided room and board for the Fellows and the Foundation some spending money. While the USSR was in existence they paid for airfare on Aeroflot, but after its collapse we picked up the tab. Viktor Kalnberzs, Haralds Jansons and a dozen of other professors from around the USSR came for visits, but the first fellows started coming during the summer of 1988 (Konstantins Kalnberzs and Gundars Lacis). The fellows primarily orthopaedic surgeons continued to come until I returned to the Full Time Yale Faculty as a tenured Professor in 2008. We also had nurses come to Waterbury and established an exchange program for them with Oxford University in England, where the chief was an old friend who had spent many years in America and whose job at the University of Rochester was considered for me. There were special fellows whom you know and were thought of as definite future leaders in Medicine, Gen- Learning With prof. Viktors Kalnbērzs, “Kristapam Keggi - izcilam ķirurgam - ar cerību kopā ilgi un raženi kalpot savai tautai. V. Kalnbērzs 7.01.1992.” Lunch after surgery in “Kremlin Hospital” (The Central Clinical Hospital of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation), 1988 or 1989, Moscow Teaching, 1995 LĀZA APKĀRTRAKSTS 70 eral Surgery, Plastics and they have not disappointed. In the course of the years we have had more than 260 follows (One of these days will have to do the official count, but it is in that range), 120 or so have been from Latvia, 40to 50 from Estonia and Lithuania, the rest from Russia, Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, Tajikstan, Vietnam and one from Germany. Many are now professors, have written books on hip surgery and some have become politicians such as Valdis Zatlers. It has been fun to follow their careers and I feel very fortunate to have been in a position to help them in some form or another. Obviously the same holds true for the 170+ Yale residents I have had the privilege to expose to orthopaedics and hip surgery in particular. Just as in Latvia one of these, John Barrasso, a very close friend became a politician now a U.S. Senator (R) from Wyoming. Much of my early work in Latvia and in the USSR was made possible by Viktor Kalnberzs in whose company I operated on a series of high ranking officials, becoming the first Western durgeon to operate in the “secret” Kremlin Hospital. Having the wife of the #2 Guy in the KGB as a patient also helped (under his watchful eyes I felt as safe in the USSR as anyplace in the world). He was a nice man and made travel for me and all of our Fellows a relatively simple process. Consulted the Nobel Prize Winning Minister of health, operated on the wife of the President of the USSR) and Russian Academy of Science, the only living WW II Marshall, etc.. It was surgery from Riga to Vladivostok where I went twice, once from the West and once from the East. Many stories and I hope to put them down in the biography I am writing. Most of my time, however, was in Latvia. Many operations and lectures in Riga primarily. Organization or participation in the organization of that first Latvian Physicians Congress and the March through the streets of Riga which also included the raising of the Latvian Flag on top of the Pils tower for the first time since 1940. It was also fun to have the athletic events such as the first Rowing Veterans Regatta between the  USSR (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and the US (New Haven Rowing Club with a few Yale and  Harvard in the group) in the summer of 1989. I feel also very proud to establish the Keggi Velo a bike race in memory of my father who, in the summer of 1944, escaped the advancing Russians by riding his bicycle from Aluksne to Jurmala. It went on for many years, but I have not heard any news about it in the recent past. Since there were many physicians among the rowers we had a Sports Medicine Symposium at the time of the Regatta. Viktor Kalberzs also had a yearly Orthopaedic conference called Keggi Days that was held in Riga, Tallin or Vilnius. I was able to get some well known American Orthopaedic Surgeons to visit....Gary Friedlaender, Leo Whiteside, Joe Miller, Victor Frankel, Albert Ferguson... Shortly after I had started my orthopaedic activities I also got involved in reviving the memory and work of my grandfather Ludis Berzins. With the help of my patients in the appropriate positions I was able to save his house in Jaundubulti from destruction and with the blessings of the authorities renovate it and turn it into a Museum devoted to his work, Latvian folklore, poetry and education. Initially most of the expenses were covered by the State, but as time went on the expenses I had to carry became so high I could no longer support it and the managers involved could not imagine a self supporting operation. We closed it much to the dismay of some of the folklorists involved, but it had to be... My Cousin Juris Berzins, bought it and was planning to turn it into an English/American School, but unfortunately died before doing anything. The contents of the house which we had collected over the years have been preserved. The antique furniture went to a museum (forgotten the name of the castle it is in) and all of my grandfathers manuscripts, documents, pictures and books to the National Archives in the Riga Pils. The dollars that were left for me all went to Yale University for the establishment  of a Keggi Berzins Fund for Baltic Studies, which in combination with money added to it by the Estate of our good friend Juris Padegs, has been bringing young scholars from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania to Yale for studies in literature, history, economics, etc.. I could not be more pleased about that, but unfortunately, as I understand it, the  house in Jurmala is once more in a disastrous state. As a part of the Museum activities I was also interviewed at great length for a biography published in Riga some fifteen years ago. In the early phases of all of this work the companies that were contributing to our academic activities were also interested in getting involved in the opening Ussr/Russian markets, but with the exception of the company Uldis Kelle has been running I have lost total contact with them.  It has been a great run. It has been fun and frequently I wonder how I did it, since our trip to England  and Scotland was an effort and I find it hard to imagine the three day trips I took to Moscow to operate on some VIP.....Leave Waterbury Saturday afternoon, get to Moscow Sunday to see the patient, operate on Monday, have an all out Russian banquet Monday night, see the patient on Tuesday morning, then get on the plane at eleven and be back doing surgery in Waterbury on Wednesday. I feel blessed and I am sure my grandparents whose ashes we reburied in their native Dzukste helped.... not to mention my godfather Janis Berzins, one of Lettonia’s finest, among the most decorated members of our Legions, who fought for Latvia well after the war was over and whose ashes may or may not be in Latvia, where he wanted them. I could do something for them and Latvia, it had to be done...