A Doctor Without Borders
An Atlanta physician retires after building a network that treats Jewish patients from Ukraine to Ethiopia
Last month, a 29-year-old man from a small village in Ethiopia awoke in a suburban Atlanta hospital. Hours before, doctors had performed on his heart life-saving triple-valve surgery, the first ever at this medical center. Still bleary-eyed, Eyasu Minas Woldekirkos was told he was going to live—and he didn’t have to pay a dime for the operation. Everything was donated, from his flight to America to the operation to the valves themselves—a gift orchestrated by Jewish Healthcare International, a nonprofit helmed by an Atlanta physician named Stephen Kutner.
What did Kutner do after hearing about Woldekirkos’ successful operation? He retired.
“It’s time for a new generation,” the 79-year-old doctor recently told Tablet. “I’m a free agent now.”
Being a free agent doesn’t mean Kutner plans to have much free time. He’s already been appointed to the board of governors at the Jewish Agency, and he’s working on a number of medical projects with the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. He has two sons—David works in construction sales in Alabama, and Rob writes comedy for Conan in Los Angeles—and four grandkids who occupy what’s left of his spare time. So, retiring from the organization he founded a decade ago is more a shift in focus than a traditional retirement.