NGF Community Blog

In Memoriam: Dr. Henry Mankin

The National Gaucher Foundation is saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. Henry Mankin.

For forty years, Dr. Mankin was the chief of orthopedics at the Massachusetts General Hospital and at Harvard Medical School. Born in Pittsburgh, he was the son of immigrants from Lithuania. Dr. Mankin was a beloved member of the medical community both in Boston and around the entire world. Dr. Mankin was also the first orthopedic surgeon who truly dedicated much of his career to treating and caring for those who have Gaucher disease.

As a dedicated and gifted teacher, he often said that his immortality was to be found in his students. It is clear from the many who were his patients in the Gaucher community, that his immortality also is found within them. His impact in their lives, and the lives of their family members, from his expertise and heartfelt kindness, is profound.

For both patients and their parents, Dr. Mankin was known for his unwavering dedication to his patients, no matter when a need arose. Louise Glickman reflected about a time when Dr. Mankin was in New Orleans to speak at a symposium. Louise had arranged for him to be interviewed by a local reporter the day before Thanksgiving. During the interview, her son called. He had fallen from his skateboard. “Yes,” Louise shared, “he would not stop skateboarding for anything, even Gaucher disease”. Dr. Mankin looked at Louise and told her to have her son in his office on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

Dr. Wayne D. Rosenfield shared numerous personal stories about Dr. Mankin in his book, Great Necessities: A Gaucher Memoir. After learning of Dr. Mankin’s passing, Wayne said, “I learned a lot from him about being a professor and about being a practitioner.” He then continued by telling another story about a day he was working in the ER and needed one of the rolling stools. “I found one by a lady’s bed,” he shared, “She had IV’s going into both arms, cardiac and blood pressure monitors, and her face was covered by an oxygen mask. Her eyes were closed and I didn’t know if she was even conscious. I said to her, ‘I’m going to take this stool.’ And then, thinking of what Dr. Mankin might have said, I added ‘Don’t get up.’ As I rolled the stool away, I saw her shaking with laughter inside her mask.”

Perhaps Suzanne Krupskas, a physical therapist who has Gaucher disease, most poignantly reflected, Dr. Mankin was “an unforgettable man, mentor, an impeccable orthopedic surgeon and individual whose legacy will live on forever.”

Our thoughts are with his family during this time.

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