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Health, Science & Tech

Groundbreaking Pittsburgh Surgeon Dr. Freddie H. Fu Dies At 70

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Courtesy of UPMC
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Dr. Freddie H. Fu, the creator of UPMC’s sports medicine program, long-time chair of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and head team physician for Pitt’s Department of Athletics, died Friday, according to statements from UPMC and the university. He was 70.

The David Silver Professor and chair of the UPMC Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Fu was acclaimed internationally for research and teaching that led to clinical advancements in sports medicine and orthopedic care, particularly in treating knee injuries, UPMC said in its statement.

Throughout his career, his patients included elite and amateur athletes, as well as thousands of non-athletes. He also published papers that were collectively cited more than 60,000 times by peers, according to Pitt.

“The University of Pittsburgh has lost one of its finest members,” Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said in a statement Friday night. “Freddie was known worldwide as a brilliant orthopaedic surgeon and a leader in the field of sports medicine. He was also a committed teacher and mentor, and he leaves behind a global community of former students, residents and colleagues who continue to heal and reshape medicine."

Known for his research on and treatment of anterior cruciate ligament injuries affecting athletes and others, Fu was the head physician for Pitt's athletic department for 32 years and the longtime company physician for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.

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Margaret Sun
Dr. Freddie Fu with Meiching "Jenny" Tao and Anna Wan in Squirrel Hill in 2017.

He also founded western Pennsylvania’s first sports medicine program in 1986 near Pitt’s Oakland campus. The UPMC Center for Sports Medicine, now housed within a 37,000-square-foot building on the South Side, has borne his name since 2018. when it reopened after an extensive renovation and expansion.

In a statement, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald called Fu's death "a great loss," noting that his influence resonated throughout the medical field as well as western Pennsylvania.

“His impact on medicine and this region over the last few decades was tremendous," Fitzgerald said. "Pittsburgh has developed a worldwide reputation as a dynamic place for ‘eds and meds’ since the 1980s, and Freddie Fu was a big part of that."

A native of Hong Kong, Fu came to the United States at age 18 to attend Dartmouth College and graduated in 1977 from Pitt's medical school, according to UPMC. He is survived by his wife, Hilda Pang Fu; their daughter, Joyce Lok-See Fu (and husband, Chad Martin); their son, Gordon Ka-Hong Fu (and wife, Ding Li); his mother, Mabel Foo; two sisters, Susan Lam and Jeanette Maeba; two brothers, Frank Fu and Nigel Fu; and five grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his father, Ying Foo.

Visitation is scheduled for 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30 at John A. Freyvogel Sons Inc., 4900 Centre Ave., Shadyside. A memorial service is planned for 2:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1 at Heinz Memorial Chapel on the Pitt campus. Interment will be private.