The world and the extended pediatric anesthesiology community lost a cherished friend, mentor, and educator when Ron Litman passed away April 21, 2021 after a year-long struggle with AML. Ron was a long-time member of SPA and an inspirational pediatric anesthesiologist with a long and distinguished career first at the University of Rochester and for the last 20+ years at CHOP. For his entire career, Ron was a guiding light of clinical excellence, a dedicated mentor of all from undergraduate students to anesthesia trainees and faculty colleagues. His unending inquisitiveness and challenging of established dogma led him to innovative clinical research investigations, in which he collaborated with those from many fields outside pediatric anesthesiology (and outside CHOP), from adult pulmonologists at Johns Hopkins, to pediatric oncologists, otolaryngologists and sleep medicine specialists. His innovative findings have educated us all about everything from airway anatomy under anesthesia to pathophysiology of mediastinal masses and malignant hyperthermia. His interest in pharmacology and medication safety led him to leadership advisory roles at the FDA, culminating in his appointment as the Chair of the FDA Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee and the medical directorship at the Institute for Safe Medication Practice. His interest in malignant hyperthermia led him to an enduring collaboration with Henry Rosenberg and a fundamental role in MHAUS and the MH help line. He trained and inspired a generation of pediatric anesthesiologists. A voracious reader, both medical and non-medical, his love of learning and interest in medico-legal issues led him to study law as applied to medicine, receiving a Masters of Law at the University of Pennsylvania. Ron also devoted much time to volunteer pediatric surgical mission around the world. A premier educator/lecturer he was much sought-after speaker at meetings, both anesthesiology and other specialties. As was his custom, he made friends world-wide wherever he traveled and picked up mentees as he went. A pied piper of pediatric anesthesiology, but also Ron was a devoted father, husband, friend, tennis and squash player and filled his and our days with wisdom, laughter and love. May his memory be a blessing for us all.
Ron himself expressed his love and devotion to his life’s work and colleagues best in an email he sent to inform the CHOP department of his diagnosis last July – “Except for the obvious burden on my family, I don’t really feel that sad about having such bad luck – I’m mostly thankful that I’ve had the incredible good luck to have a 30-year career where going to work every day is so much fun and fulfilling and impact so many children’s lives throughout the years, and getting to work alongside so many wonderful colleagues. Very few people in the world get to have that kind of good luck, and with a little more, I’ll be back in the OR in 2021.”
The ASA Committee on Economics recently published an updated ASA physical status classification with specific examples of pediatric comorbidities. In a recent study by Ferrari LR et al., the updated pediatric ASA physical status classification moderately improved interrater reliability among pediatric anesthesiologists.