It is with deep sadness that the FEI has learned of the passing of FEI Medical Committee Chairman Dr Craig Ferrell (USA). Dr Ferrell, 62, died on Monday 28 May from injuries sustained in a fall during a polo match near his home in Franklin, Tennessee. An orthopaedic surgeon and internationally recognised sports medicine expert, Dr Ferrell received his medical degree from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. He did a surgical residency at Ochsner Foundation Hospital in the same city and specialised in orthopaedics at the Campbell Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr Ferrell, whose clinical interests were sports medicine and joint replacement, was the founder of the Bone and Joint Clinic at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, where he served as a professor and Vice Chairman of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation. He was a member of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and was elected as Chair of the FEI Medical Committee in 2007.
Having competed in swimming at college, Craig Ferrell began his relationship with the US Swimming Team at their training camp in 1979, eventually becoming team physician for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
After the Atlanta Games, Dr Ferrell continued as Chair of USA Swimming Sports Medicine, but as an accomplished rider and keen equestrian enthusiast, he took on team physician duties for equestrian sports as well. Dr Ferrell served as the US equestrian team doctor for over 15 years, including at the Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
“Craig Ferrell was one of the kindest, most compassionate and dedicated people I have ever met,” FEI President HRH Princess Haya said, “and we at the FEI are devastated by his sudden passing. He cared deeply for the well-being of the athletes; they were his friends, not just his patients. He worked tirelessly to make equestrian sports safer and was instrumental in implementing the FEI rule which prevents riders from continuing in competition after a fall. Our hearts go out to Craig’s wife Lorraine, to his sons Aaron and Jonathan, and to the many many people who knew and loved him around the world.”
A Facebook page and a special page on the website CaringBridge have been inundated with tributes from Dr Ferrell’s friends and former patients, all of whom write about his loving nature, his dedication to improving the health and well-being of others and the difference that he made to so many lives.
“Dr Ferrell served the Olympic Movement for 30 years and was highly respected by athletes and peers alike,” IOC Medical and Scientific Director Patrick Schamasch commented. “He was a renowned expert in orthopaedic surgery who used all his knowledge and expertise to help reduce risks in equestrian sport. He was with us in Monaco for the IOC Conference on injury and illness prevention in April 2011, making a valuable contribution to the session dedicated to the International Federations.”
Dr Graig Ferrell’s funeral will take place on Thursday, 31 May, at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, 2015 West End Avenue, Nashville, at 2pm. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to BrightStone. Dr Ferrell was Board Director and former Board Chair of the charity, which works with adults with a developmental disability.
The FEI expresses its sincere condolences to Dr Ferrell’s wife Lorraine, his two sons Jon and Aaron, and his extended family, the youngest member of which, Craig and Lorraine’s first grandchild, Michael Cannon Ferrell, was born on 23 May, the day of Dr Ferrell's accident. Condolences also to the US equestrian team, to the US equestrian community and to his many friends around the world.