Paul W. Sanger, MD, right, was a thoracic surgeon from Charlotte who helped to organize the 38th Evacuation Hospital, a group of about 400 doctors, nurses and other personnel who helped take care of the wounded and ill during World War II in the United Kingdom, North Africa and Italy. He returned to Charlotte after the war and founded the premier cardiovascular institute in the area that accomplished many medical breakthroughs in his time. Today, the Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute stands as part of his legacy.
Paul W. Sanger, MD, was interviewed by Ernie Pyle, the famous war correspondent, during the 38th Evacuation Hospital’s stint in North Africa during World War II, Dr. Sanger, the Charlotte physician who was described by Pyle as a “highly skilled, well-to-do professional man,” was asked about his experiences caring for the ill and wounded during the Allied campaign across North Africa in early 1943.
“I never go into town. I feel better out here than I’ve ever felt in my entire life,” Dr. Sanger told Pyle. “We were all prima donnas back home. We had every comfort money could buy. We would have been shocked at the idea of living like this. But we love it. We all do. I suppose we’ll be making our families live in tents when we get home.”
When Dr. Sanger did finally arrive back in Charlotte in 1945, he brought with him more than war stories, but a passion to see Charlotte on the forefront of modern medicine. And his breakthroughs in surgical technology and techniques would see his vision come true.
A few of his many accomplishments included:
Harry Golden, a newspaperman who was friends with Dr. Sanger, wrote after his friend’s death, “Hundreds of people will express the idea that Sanger was the best friend he had on earth. He was a man who made every patient a friend for life. He was a great humanitarian. He was deeply concerned with the welfare of the world and its people ... "Dr. Sanger’s colleagues named the practice in honor of him after his death, and in 2005 Carolinas HealthCare System announced the Sanger Clinic would become part of the System.
Dr. Sanger’s hard work, vision and knowledge carry on today through the Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, a nationally and internationally recognized center that provides high quality care for patients with cardiovascular disease with locations throughout North and South Carolina.