Providence, R.I. - The Ivy Football Association will honor former Brown football standout and noted medical humanitarian and surgeon Tom Catena, M.D. '86 at its annual dinner on Thursday, February 7, 2013 at the New York Marriott Marquis.
A native of Amsterdam, New York, Catena studied mechanical engineering at Brown, and excelled both in the classroom and on the football field. He earned honors as an Associated Press All-American and All-Ivy nose guard, and was also a Rhodes Scholar candidate.
Upon graduation, he decided to pursue a medical career that would afford him the opportunity to work in the developing world. Tom entered the Duke University School of Medicine in 1988 on a U.S. Navy scholarship, and, in 1992, he joined the United States Navy, becoming a Naval Flight Surgeon. After fulfilling his Navy obligation, he completed a residency in family medicine at Union Hospital in Terre Haute, Indiana. While there, he did mission trips to Guyana and Honduras.
In 1999, Tom began his service as a missionary doctor. Through the Catholic Medical Mission Board he worked as a physician volunteer at hospitals in Mutomo and Nairobi, Kenya.
In 2007, Tom became medical director and sole physician at Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountain region of the Sudan, a country where civil war has been raging for years. He established the facility with Bishop Macram Gassis and on opening day in 2008, he attended to over 200 patients. Since then, he has rarely stopped, dealing with everything from malaria and leprosy to brain surgery. When he isn't seeing patients, he is busy running the hospital and training nurses.
In 2011, the civil war escalated and conditions at the hospital became more intense. In addition to those wounded by the fighting, many of them children, Tom and his staff faced a particularly severe malaria outbreak. He was given the choice to evacuate, but he refused: "As the only doctor in the only hospital in the region I could not leave in good conscience. "
Catena was the subject of an essay by a young Washington, D.C. doctor who worked five weeks with him. "Always on Call " was published in the premier British medical journal, The Lancet, and the essay was awarded the 2008 Wakley Prize. He was named a "Catholic Hero" by Catholic Digest in 2010, and has been quoted in numerous international publications reporting on the ongoing civil war in the Sudan.
The Ivy Football Association is also honoring Marcellus Wiley (Columbia '97), Tim Ring (Cornell '79), Willie Bogan (Dartmouth '71), Jerry Jordan (Harvard '61), Robert Wolf (Penn '84), Robert Baldwin (Princeton '42) and Calvin Hill (Yale '69).