His work has been called heroic. His teaching career has been honored with a Distinguished Faculty Award. His character has been described as “one of the most ethical.” He is L. Lewis Wall, M.D., professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University’s School of Medicine, and he has been chosen as the 2012 Ethical Humanist of the Year. In choosing Dr. Wall, the Ethical Humanist of the Year Committee honors his passionate and compassionate commitment to women who have been traumatized, stigmatized and ostracized by a severely debilitating medical condition brought on by prolonged childbirth.
Dr. Wall’s determination to help women in Africa and other third world countries living with untreated obstetric fistulas, which cause urinary and fecal incontinence, has compelled and inspired him to devote time, money and expertise in the creation of a Worldwide Fistula Fund and the building of the Danja Fistula Center in Niger – one of the few medical centers specifically devoted to assisting women with prevention and treatment of fistulas and restoring those so treated to lives of dignity and worth.
Not content with increased awareness, funding and doctors trained to treat fistulas, Dr. Wall has expanded his vision to launch an ambitious goal of a 12-year, $1.5 billion campaign to create similar centers in all corners of the world where such care is needed. These centers would provide not only surgery but comprehensive maternal health education and outreach. In addition they would serve and empower women with instruction in microfinance.