I think everyone would agree that the outpouring of financial and other support from Americans to the people of Haiti is inspiring.  Our citizens have proven time and time again that when people are in need, we are all ready to respond in whatever way we can.  From school children collecting pennies and dimes, to major contributions and relief efforts by such organizations as The Salvation Army, the citizens of Memphis are making personal sacrifices for those who have lost everything.  The story in the February 4 Commercial Appeal shows just what kind of people we are .

In Memphis, we have an even greater obligation to those in need than in most communities across the country.  You see, we herald ourselves as leaders in orthopedics, medical devices, musculoskeletal issues and the treatment of children with devastating injuries or diseases.  With leadership comes obligation.  You can’t just be a leader or talk about your leadership when it is convenient for you.

From my vantage point at Memphis Bioworks Foundation and on the Memphis Chamber board, I am extremely pleased to see our leadership in these areas carrying through during the crisis in Haiti.  As you scan the headlines in the local papers and on the local television news programs, you find an impressive list of Memphis’ leading organizations answering the call.  Smith & Nephew, Medtronic, Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center, FedEx, Campbell Clinic and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have each created programs that fit with their core competency, whether that is offering medical device supplies, sending doctors, providing distribution services of opening their own beds for treatment.

One of the most visible collaborative teams helping in Haiti is the team assembled by Le Bonheur.  I would suggest that every Memphian track their progress in Haiti on the Blog they are updating when technology and time allow.  It can be found here.  Scroll down to the bottom of the Blog to see the team and the training from the beginning, including participation by the Memphis Grizzlies, Panera Bread and the Memphis and Shelby County Health Department.

Most of the bioscience companies and organizations responding are established international leaders in their field.  But, even our entrepreneurial community has become involved.  ExtraOrtho is an early-stage orthopedic company in Memphis. The company’s first product is an external fixation trauma device that just received FDA clearance for sale last year.  The first use of the product was only in December.  And yet, this start-up supplied the Le Bonheur team with $160,000 worth of their XtraFix External Fixation System, and then trained the doctors on the medical mission how to use this device to support the healing of fractures to avert amputation.  This is a company with limited resources, but a strong social conscious.

The Memphis bioscience community is earning its leadership position through its efforts in Haiti.  All of us should be proud.