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Colleagues remember Brigham and Women’s doctor who died in a fall in the Dominican Republic

“My heart just breaks.”

Dr. Francisco M. Marty. Courtesy Brigham and Women's Hospital via The Boston Globe

Members of the medical community in Boston and across the country are mourning the death of an infectious disease physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital who died suddenly last week. 

Dr. Francisco Marty, who was known for his love of photography, was taking a picture of a 275-foot waterfall in the Dominican Republic on April 8 when he fell to his death, The Boston Globe reports. The tragedy occurred on the second day of his trip, a long-anticipated break from the 53-year-old’s work as an infectious disease specialist during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

His brother shared the news of his passing on Twitter. 

In a statement, Brigham and Women’s called Marty a “gifted and devoted physician-scientist, specializing in the treatment of infectious diseases affecting transplant and cancer patients.”

“Throughout the pandemic, he also was a near-constant presence on our Special Pathogens Units, caring for vulnerable patients with compassion, warmth and meticulous attention to detail,” the hospital said. “Notably, last year he was the principal investigator for clinical trials that looked at the use of remdesivir, an antiviral medication, for COVID-19 patients. They were among several studies that led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to expand its emergency use authorization for remdesivir to treat all hospitalized patients with COVID-19.”

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According to the Globe, a funeral mass was held Sunday in Santo Domingo for Marty. 

Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, Dana Farber’s president, wrote in a statement that everyone at the institution was shocked and heartbroken by his death. 

“He was devoted to his patients and a mentor to many,” she wrote. “Our hearts are with his family, friends, colleagues, and patients. We will miss him dearly.”

The announcement of his death was met with a flood of messages from current and former colleagues, reacting with shock to the doctor’s death and sharing the ways he had impacted their lives. 

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Dr. Paul Sax, clinical director of the division of infectious disease at Brigham and Women’s, reacted to the news, writing his colleague was “a brilliant clinician, clinical researcher, teacher and photographer.”

“He taught us so much,” Sax wrote. “My heart just breaks.”

Dr. Jessica Little, a fellow in infectious disease at Brigham and Women’s, shared that Marty “defined what being a clinician means to me.”

“The lessons he taught me are immeasurable,” she wrote. “First and foremost he said, ‘never turn away from the patient.’ This was exemplified in the way he cracked jokes and remembered every personal detail of his patients’ lives. His patients often thought of him as family.”

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There was never a moment when he wasn’t ready to teach or share his experiences with the “hundreds and thousands” of trainees whose lives he touched, she wrote. 

“He saw others’ success as his own in a way that is truly rare,” Little said. “I am heartbroken that he is gone but I know he will live on in the minds and practice of so many that he impacted.”

“For many years now, I saw you care for and elevate the people around you and make this world a better place,” Dr. Wilfredo Matias, an infectious disease physician at Brigham and Women’s, wrote. “And I would tell myself that you were the kind of doctor and person I hoped to become. We’ll be missing you dearly.”

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Many shared photos of themselves with Marty or their favorite pictures that he had taken. The doctor had posted hundreds of photos to his Instagram account and on 500px, a website for photographers. According to a former colleague, the doctor would auction off his photos for charity at hospital talent shows. 

Dr. Fatima Al Dhaheri, a pediatric infectious disease fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital, wrote she is taking solace in the reality that her mentor’s “gift to the world’ as a teacher will never be forgotten or gone. 

“His passion, humility, and love for what he does was palpable … it inspired you to do better,” she wrote. “And be better.”

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Below, see more of the memories being shared of Marty by his current and former colleagues:

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