Dr. George G. Markarian

Dr. George G. Markarian Obituary

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LISLE, ILL. – George G. Markarian, MD, age 88, a longtime resident of Lisle, passed away on November 22. He was born on May 15, 1932 in Tabriz, Iran.

Dr. Markarian is survived by his wife of 58 years, Larissa Markarian (nee Bagratuni), sons Gregory George Markarian, MD and Michael George Markarian; grandchildren Farrah Elena Markarian and Joseph Hideki Markarian; siblings Hrand Markarian and Angie Demers-Markarian, MD; niece and nephew Pierre Demers and Helen Demers. He is preceded in death by his parents and Paranjem and Bartough Markarian; his sister Goharik Markarian.

Dr. George G. Markarian and his wife Larissa Markarian

Dr. George Markarian was the son of Armenian immigrant parents who fled Soviet Armenia to Iran to escape communist persecution. After three years, his family moved to Tehran, where he grew up. He was an extremely gifted soccer player and also very talented academically. As he grew up, his talents in academics and soccer grew immensely. By the time he was 17, he was admitted to the Iranian National team as its star center forward and also shortly thereafter he was admitted to the University of Tehran medical school.

His medical career ran in parallel with a phenomenal soccer career. As captain of the national team he led the 1951 Iranian squad to a silver medal in the Asia Olympic Games (Asian Cup). He was also the premier center forward for the top club team in Iran called Taj. This team annually finished number one in the Iranian league while he was a member. He played alongside other Iranian greats like Khatemi, Boyuk Jedikar, and Mahmoud Bayati. Dr. Markarian also started a medical school university team that finished first in Iran six straight years while he was playing.

He often had to play multiple games on the same day because at that time he played for three teams and would sometimes go from one game to another on the same day. He was a prolific scorer and while records were not kept in that era, he would often score multiple goals per game whether it be for the national team, Taj or the medical school team. One example was a day he had two games with the first game in the morning for the medical school where he scored five goals and then later that evening he scored 3 goals for the Taj club in the Iranian league.

In 1956 Iran was playing their very important rival Iraq. Before that match Dr. Markarian was engrossed in his medical studies and informed the national team he could not play for the match because the training would interfere with his preparation for his medical school exams. When the Shah of Iran learned of this and realized how important George’s role would be to have success in such an important match, he contacted his professor and made arrangements for George’s exams to be delayed. Also, the Shah had Dr. Markarian stay at his palace and study and train for the match on his private soccer field within the palace grounds. The Shah’s strategy reaped rewards against a very tough and talented Iraq squad as Iran defeated Iraq 4-3. Dr. Markarian scored 3 goals including the game winner and had a perfect assist for Iran’s second goal of the match which was a long cross outside the penalty area near the corner flag to the head of Nader Afshar (second goal of the match).

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For many Iranians of the time Dr. Markarian was a national hero, a treasure, a superstar and while he was known mostly in Iran, to many who watched his style of play and ability to dribble and easily beat defenders without losing the ball and finishing a lot of opportunities with goals, they considered him amongst the elite players of the world.

While he was in Iran he also volunteered in an Armenian medical clinic in Tehran, where he provided free services for Armenians in need. His desire to become a great doctor opened a new chapter in his life as he immigrated to the United States to start a residency in Chicago, Illinois for the subspecialty of Orthopedic Surgery. In 1958 he worked with Dr. Sid Shafer at Illinois Masonic Hospital. After he received very valuable instruction, he entered the Northwestern University Medical School Orthopedic Surgery residency program. There he had the opportunity to work with Dr. Hampar Kelikian, who influenced him greatly. During his residency, he was also chief of six services at Cook County hospital.

In 1966 he came to Naperville, Illinois to be the first orthopedic surgeon in its hospital. Like his soccer career, he had a very impressive career as an orthopedic surgeon. In 1967, he learned about a new British procedure at McGill University in Montreal, Canada called a total hip replacement from the inventor Sir John Charnley. That same year he performed the first total hip in the United States at Edward Hospital. It was a cemented Mckee Farrar metal on metal implant.

Since there were no instruments available because he was the first to do this in the United States, he had to buy all the instruments himself and the implants and had to import the cement from Canada because these materials were not available. The first patient was a Benedictine Monk from Saint Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois. He had done 50 cases by 1970 when the first one was done at Northwestern Memorial Hospital by Dr. Clinton Compere who borrowed Dr. Markarian’s instrumentation to do his first case.

During his career he had done thousands of total hip and total knee replacements and he was always on the cutting edge of technology as improvements came along. He was also very innovative with fracture care, in particular in his own techniques for proximal humerus fractures, distal clavicle ac separations and fractures and acetabular fractures. He often had instruments developed by the Orthopedic Device companies to perform these techniques.

He was also one of the first people to perform arthroscopic surgery in the United States in 1976 he did his first knee arthroscopy at Edward Hospital. Again because the equipment was scarce he had to purchase his own equipment. He was an excellent arthroscopic surgeon for the knee, shoulder and ankle and elbow.

He had a reputation of excellence, kindness, honesty and compassion for his patients. He practiced for over 36 years and performed over 25,000 surgeries. He was president of the medical staff of Edward Hospital for over 25 years and chairman of the department of surgery for 25 years at Edward Hospital. He brought in new management which transformed Edward Hospital into a reputable medical center that could accommodate the needs of a growing community. He improved the quality standards, rewrote the bylaws and implemented departmental policies. He retired from Orthopedic Surgery in 1999 and resided in his house in Lisle, where he enjoyed time with his family and friends.

Visitation will be Friday, November 27 from 4:00-8:00 p.m. at Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home & Cremation Services (44 S. Mill St. Naperville, IL 60540). The funeral service will be held on Saturday, November 28 at 11:00 a.m. at Armenian All Saints Apostolic Church (1701 Greenwood Rd, Glenview, IL 60026). Interment will follow at Naperville Cemetery, Naperville. Current health guidelines state that no more than 10 individuals at a time may pay their respects to the family, and guests are required to wear masks and follow social distancing procedures. For more information, please call (630)355-0213.

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