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Children's Hospital Surgeon-in-Chief Dr. David Tapper Passes Away

July 24, 2002

Seattle, Wash. – Dr. David Tapper, surgeon-in-chief of Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center for the past 18 years, passed away in his home July 23, 2002 after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 57 years old.

Seattle, Wash. – Dr. David Tapper, surgeon-in-chief of Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center for the past 18 years, passed away in his home July 23, 2002 after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 57 years old.

Dr. Tapper joined Children’s Hospital in 1983 as its first surgeon-in-chief and was also professor of Surgery, Pediatrics and vice-chairman of Department of Surgery at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He transformed a small department into a fully accredited, sought-after training program that includes every surgical specialty.

“To all of us he was a friend, healer, mentor, surgeon and teacher without peer,” said Treuman Katz, president and CEO of Children’s. “He was not only the consummate academic surgeon - one who excelled in teaching, research and patient care - but also a wonderful human being. He will be terribly missed.”

Dr. Tapper was honored last year with the creation of the David Tapper Endowed Lectureship in Pediatric Surgery, providing training, support and a reminder of the core values of medicine to the pediatric surgical community.

He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor of science in psychology from the University of Maryland and received his medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He completed a full general surgical residency at the University of California, San Francisco and a pediatric surgery research fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital. This was followed by two years of fellowship training in pediatric surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital. He then spent the next four years at the Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital as a pediatric surgeon and scientific investigator.

Dr. Tapper recently concluded his presidency of the American Pediatric Surgical Association. He served as a leader in many local, regional and national organizations, including president of the Seattle Surgical Society, and councilor of the Washington, Alaska and British Columbia Caucus of the Pacific Coast Surgical Association.

Devoted to his family, Dr. Tapper is survived by his wife of 34 years, Susan, and their four children, JoEllen, Erica, Jacalyn and Aaron. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to: The David Tapper Residents Fund, c/o UW Foundation, 1325 Fourth Avenue, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA 98101.

As both a community hospital for greater Seattle and the pediatric referral center for the Pacific Northwest, Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center provides directly or in partnership with others, excellent pediatric care, education and research programs. Children’s is an advocate on behalf of health care needs of children at local, state and national levels. Children’s provides health care appropriate for the special needs of children regardless of race, sex, creed, ethnicity or disability. Financial assistance is provides based upon family need and hospital resources.

About Seattle Children's Hospital

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Children’s has been delivering superior patient care and advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit

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