Dr. James T. Goodrich successfully separated conjoined twin boys Anias and Jadon McDonald in 2016

By Gabrielle Chung
March 30, 2020 10:22 PM
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Credit: Mary Altaffer/AP/Shutterstock

Dr. James T. Goodrich, the pediatric neurosurgeon who performed lifesaving surgery by separating a pair of conjoined twins in 2016, passed away on Monday from complications related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), according to the hospital where he worked.

In a statement from Montefiore Einstein, Goodrich was described as a doctor who “dedicated his life to saving children with complex neurological conditions” and a “pioneer in his field.”

Despite developing a world-renowned method to separate conjoined twins, Goodrich was a “humble and truly caring man” who “did not crave the limelight and was beloved by his colleagues and staff,” the hospital said.

“Dr. Goodrich was a beacon of our institution and he will be truly missed,” Dr. Philip O. Ozuah, the CEO of Montefiore Medicine, said in a statement. “His expertise and ability were second only to his kind heart and manner. Dr. Goodrich was admired by his Montefiore Medicine colleagues and adored by his patients and Montefiore Einstein will not be the same without his presence.”

Goodrich was the director of the division of pediatric neurosurgery at Montefiore Health System and the professor of clinical neurological surgery, pediatrics, plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

He served as a Marine in the Vietnam War prior to entering the medical profession.

“Jim was in many ways the heart and soul of our department – a master surgeon, a world-class educator, and a beloved colleague for all,” Dr. Emad Eskandar, chair of the department of neurosurgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, said in a statement. “His sudden loss is heart-breaking and his memory will always remain foremost in our thoughts.”

Goodrich first became well known when he successfully separated Carl and Clarence Aguirre, a pair of twins from the Philippines who were born joined at the top of their heads, in 2004.

In 2016, he led a team of 40 doctors in a 27-hour surgery to separate Anias and Jadon McDonald, American conjoined twins who shared brain tissues and blood vessels for the first 13 months of their lives.

RELATED: Mom of Formerly Conjoined Twins Holds Separated Son for First Time After Surgery: ‘I’ve Dreamed of This Moment’

Nicole McDonald, the mother of Anias and Jadon, called Goodrich’s death “a tragic loss” in a Facebook tribute on Monday.

“My heart is broken. You will forever be our hero. Every single time my children wrap their arms around my neck, I think of you. Every milestone they reach is because you believed in them as much as I did,” she wrote. “I’m not sure how to continue this journey without you. May you rest in peace, Dr. James Goodrich. We love you so much.”

In her post, she added that the coronavirus “took him so quickly” and urged people to take proper precautions from health officials to stay home and practice social distancing.

As of Monday afternoon, there have been at least 156,391 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with 2,897 deaths from coronavirus-related illness.

Goodrich is survived by his wife and three sisters.

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