Throughout his career, Dr. McDonald has devoted time and energy to numerous professional associations, organizations and societies. At one time or another, he has been an active member of more than 50 organizations.

From 1968 when he served as secretary of the Buffalo Surgical Society, through 2004 when he completed his second successive three-year term on the Board of Governors of the American College of Surgeons, John C. McDonald has provided leadership, knowledge and innovation to his profession. He was a founding member of the American Society for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics, the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, and the Shreveport Surgical Society.

He has held twenty-six elective offices, including the presidency of the Surgical Association of Louisiana, the American Society of Transplant Surgeons, the Halsted Society, and the Southern Surgical Association. The committees on which he has served are numerous and varied, as are the editorial boards that have received his guidance. He has been elected to the coveted status of Fellow by members of the American Surgical Association, the Southern Surgical Association, the American College of Surgeons, the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, and the Southeastern Surgical Congress. Detailed information on Dr. McDonald’s professional affiliations and service can be found in his curriculum vitae.

An in-depth review of Dr. McDonald’s service to three organizations will serve as a representation of the impact he has made. Correspondence, publications, photographs, newspaper articles, plaques and other memorabilia found in the John C. McDonald, M.D. Archive, housed in the Library, provides a visual record of his service and contributions.


Dr. McDonald became a member of the Surgical Association of Louisiana on November 15, 1969. He was an active member, encouraging medical students and surgical residents to take part in meetings as well. At the 1980 meeting, “The Risk of Sepsis in the Asplenic Adult”, a paper co-authored by surgical resident Barron J. O’Neal and Dr. McDonald, was named the prize-winning essay for the best research performed by a surgery resident. After a three-year term on the Board of Directors from 1977-1980, McDonald served as the Association’s president during 1982-83.
His presidential address, which according to congratulatory letters, “made everybody sit up and think” received coverage in the New Orleans Times Picayune on November 20, 1983 and was published in the January 1984 issue of the Journal of the Louisiana State Medical Society. McDonald’s premise was that the preeminent role of the New Orleans medical community had gradually slipped during the preceding several decades. His presidential address discussed the reasons for this decline and suggested changes that might remedy the situation.


The Halsted Society, named for the famed surgeon, William Stewart Halsted, met for the first time in June 1924. Membership in this prestigious society is by invitation only and is limited to 75 active members. Dr. McDonald was invited to join in 1982 and served as the membership chairman in 1987-1988. In 1991, he served as president of the society and is pictured with the membership at that time during the meeting at High Hampton. The purposes of the Halsted Society as listed in the constitution are: to perpetuate the memory of Doctor William Stewart Halsted; to further the scientific principles and ideals for which he stood; and to encourage exchange of ideas, free and informal discussion, and a spirit of sociability and good fellowship among its members.


Dr. McDonald was elected a Fellow of the Southern Surgical Association in 1970 and received the prestigious Arthur Shipley Award in 1971. The Shipley Award, presented since 1958, is given for the best paper at the previous meeting of the Association. The Southern Surgical Association traces its beginnings back to 1886 and its invited membership is limited to 300.

Dr. McDonald has served in nearly every official capacity in the Southern Surgical Association. From 1988-1991 he was Archivist and Treasurer, from 1992-1993 he was Secretary, and in 1994 he served as President. His presidential address “In Search of the Holy Grail” (Manuscript) (Final Typescript) was later published in the May 1995 issue of the Annals of Surgery. McDonald is pictured here with fellow SSA members James Thompson and Michael DeBakey at the 1994 meeting. As always, McDonald served as a mentor for medical students and residents at the SSA, encouraging attendance and the submission of papers.

From 1999 through 2004, McDonald served on the Board of Governors of the American College of Surgeons. The ACS Governor is charged with making a report to the Southern Surgical Association at the business meeting. Manuscripts, edited drafts and the final typescript for McDonald’s 2001 Governor’s Report reveal the care that he puts into all of his writing. The McDonald Archive even contains travel documents for that 2001 trip to Hot Springs, Virginia.

Click here for additional photographs of Dr. McDonald’s celebration as the President of the Southern Surgical Association in 1994.



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