On the morning of Jan. 20, the BWH community and members of the Davidson family gathered to honor the life and legacy of Michael J. Davidson, MD, one year after his passing.
The tribute began outside of 45 Francis St., where members of the BWH Security team guided Davidson’s children in raising and then lowering the BWH flag to half-staff. Davidson’s wife, Terri Halperin, MD, and her mother joined BWH staff—many wearing MJD pins and blue surgical caps with the initials MJD—to hear reflections from BWHC President Betsy Nabel, MD, and moving renditions of the National Anthem and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” sung by Mark Anderson, IT project manager for the Department of Medicine.
“Today is about finding comfort in our memories of Dr. Davidson and in reflecting on the indelible impact he had on so many lives,” Nabel said. “What has given me strength and hope this past year are the stories from Michael’s patients and their loved ones about his kindness. Let us all strive to emulate his unwavering compassion to uplift the hearts of others. I believe that this is the most fitting way for us to carry forth his legacy and express our gratitude for all that he gave in his short time on earth.”
At the end of the ceremony, attendees left electric votive candles at the base of the flagpole, which remained there through the night, casting a hopeful light in honor of Davidson.
Later that morning, staff joined Davidson’s patients and their families, colleagues and Halperin in Bornstein Amphitheater for a celebration of his life and legacy.
During the service, attendees heard from Davidson’s patients; his former assistant Mishel Burgos, lead surgical coordinator of BWH Cardiac Surgery, who gave a reading; Halperin and Nabel. Attendees also viewed videos featuring moving testimonials from patients and reflections from his friends and colleagues.
Captain Lou Buonadonna, a patient of Davidson’s, spoke about his relationship with “Dr. Mike,” who performed a life-saving valve repair surgery in 2011 that enabled Buonadonna to continue his career as a pilot. It also gave him precious time with his family, including his wife, three children and three grandchildren.
“Michael had my heart in his hands, and I am so grateful to this day that I came into his care,” said Buonadonna, who wore his pilot uniform as a tribute to Davidson. “I love Dr. Mike very much, and my thoughts and prayers will be with him, Dr. Halperin and their children forever. If there were more people in this world as kind, caring, compassionate and gifted as Dr. Mike, it would be a better place.”
Halperin concluded the service with reflections on what her husband valued most: his family, friends and colleagues, and the patients and their loved ones who entrusted him with their lives.
“There’s something so special about holding someone’s heart in your hands,” she said. “Michael truly felt it was an honor and a privilege to operate on the heart. It takes an enormous amount of trust on the part of a patient to put your life in a surgeon’s hands.”
View a recording of the service.