PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Dr. Freddie Fu, the creator of UPMC’s world-renowned sports medicine program and head team physician for the University of Pittsburgh athletic department, has died at the age of 70.
UPMC said in a statement that Dr. Fu died Friday surrounded by his family.
“The University of Pittsburgh has lost one of its finest members,” said Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher in a release. “Freddie was known worldwide as a brilliant orthopedic 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. I am so grateful that he chose to build his life and legacy in Pittsburgh and — like so many others — I am proud to have called him a friend and colleague.”
The Pittsburgh doctor was known worldwide for restoring elite athletes, ballet dancers and regular Joes into tip-top shape.
A native of Hong Kong, Dr. Fu came here to attend Pitt’s medical school in the 1970s and went on to chair its Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.
He took care of Pitt’s athletes, Pittsburgh’s ballet dancers and helped found the Pittsburgh Marathon — all the while honing his skills and developing new techniques for treating sports-related injuries to knees and shoulders.
By 2008, Dr. Fu’s reputation was such that UPMC attracted 200 orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine specialists from around the world for a summit on his method of treating torn ligaments.
In the late 1990s, Dr. Fu helped lead the development of the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side, pairing sports medicine programs within training facilities for the Steelers and Pitt Panthers.
Forever in our hearts.
— Pitt Athletics (@Pitt_ATHLETICS) September 25, 2021
In 2018, UPMC renamed its operation there the UPMC Freddie Fu Sports Medicine Center. On that occasion, some of the doctor’s former students from around the world shared tributes to him, eliminating any doubt about the depth and breadth of his legacy.
“It’s because of Dr. Fu that I know no matter what, I can succeed and accomplish anything that I want within orthopedic surgery,” Dr. Kellie Middleton said.
Dr. Fu is also remembered as a philanthropist and benefactor of many local causes. In 2016, Pittsburgh City Council recognized him for that community involvement — as well as his achievements in medicine, education and research — by declaring Dr. Freddie Fu Day in the city.
In a tribute on Friday, Mayor Bill Peduto called Dr. Fu “a legend” and “pioneer”
Pittsburgh lost a legend. A pioneer in modern/future surgery. A leader who helped transform Pittsburgh’s economy to eds & meds. A gracious, compassionate man. Our prayers are with Hilda and family. Wishing you peace, my friend. @UPMCnews pic.twitter.com/iPNhuVBqL6
— bill peduto (@billpeduto) September 25, 2021
The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office also posted a tribute to Dr. Fu.
There are thousands of people who r walking normally and playing catch with their kids because of the work of Dr. Freddy Fu. His passing is an irreplaceable loss for the medical profession and the western PA community. Thank You and Much Respect to Dr. Freddy Fu !! pic.twitter.com/aM4OxE0Mhs
— AlleghenyCountyDA (@AlleghenyCoDA) September 25, 2021
Fu is survived by his wife, Hilda, his daughter, Joyce, and son, Gordon.