Estonian 83-year old doctor Bruno Põder received on November 13th the European Year 2012 Award in the category of “Life story challenge”. The recognition to his lifetime achievements was handed to the retired surgeon and his daughter, who submitted his candidacy to the competition, by László Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, at a ceremony which took place in Brussels.
Mr. Põder was born on April 18th 1929, and at the age of 80 he retired as a surgeon after almost a whole life dedicated to Medicine.
Born in a humble family, his childhood was the same as that of many of his generation in Estonia: not an easy one. He earned some money and food by herding cows in a farm, and still had do work while studying Medicine at the University of Tartu. During his long career, Mr. Põder has worked in several hospitals, in several towns, but he finally got to practice Medicine at the place of his dreams when he was a student: the Tartu University Hospital, where in addition to his tasks as a surgeon he supervised young doctors.
“He is a role model”, say many of his colleagues, who praise his sense of humour, lifting the spirits of patients, family and friends.
Looking at doctor Põder, the say, one would never guess his age. He walks a couple of kilometres at a brisk pace from his home to the library, or to meet his friends, or to look after his former patients. He is also known because he still takes daily swims in the lake, even at that time of the year when not only the water, but even the air, is cold, from April to October.
At the age of 60 he started to go to the gym, inspired by his daughter, Kersti Skovgaard. Football is still his passion, and together with his son and grandson he drives 160 km to Tallinn to attend the Estonian national team’s matches.
Needless to say, this active surgeon felt uneasy after retirement – he had been working hard most of his life, and suddenly he had a lot of time on his hands. Now things have settled, he admits. He now spends time reading books, attending community events, especially those about healthy living (Heart Days, local food fairs, etc), travelling and, of course, enjoying football matches.
Mr. Põder is a founding member of the Estonian Senior Surgeons’ Society and also an active member of the 80+ Club and the Grandfathers’ Club in his hometown of Viljandi.
His lesson of life, he says, is: “What you do, do well”. This is what he has been doing these 83 years and what tries to teach to his loved ones.
For more information about the European Year 2012 Awards in this webpage.