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Albany Med Today

Beloved Anesthesiologist Honored as Organ Donor


In their 24 years of marriage, Dr. Howard and Joan Smith never discussed organ donation. Relatively young and in good health, they hadn’t felt the need.

But when Howard Smith, MD, a respected anesthesiologist at Albany Med, died suddenly of a heart attack while getting ready for work one morning last spring, his wife knew donation was the right decision.

“Donating his organs gave me one degree of control in a horrendous situation that I otherwise had no control over,” she said. “We hoped that by donating Howie’s corneas others would see the world like he did — always smiling, always caring.”

Dr. Smith was honored as an organ donor on the Donate Life Float in this year’s Rose Bowl Parade on New Year’s Day with a “floragraph”— a floral portrait of Dr. Smith made entirely of organic materials such as nuts, seeds and coffee grounds. His family — wife Joan and their children: Alyssa, 22; Joshua, 20, and twins Benjamin and Eric, 17 — put the finishing touches on the floragraph at a ceremony at Albany Med in December, and traveled to Pasadena, Ca., to view the float in the parade.

Kevin Roberts, MD, ’77, chair of anesthesiology, recalled Dr. Smith as a “gifted and patient teacher and a thoughtful mentor to dozens of medical students, residents and junior faculty at Albany Med.”

An anesthesiologist at Albany Med for 23 years, Dr. Smith was most recently professor of anesthesiology and medical director of Pre-operative Services. He held numerous board certifications, including anesthesiology, pain management, internal medicine, palliative care and nuclear medicine.

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