Tribute To Rodney Appell MD


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NAFC Board Chairman G. Willy Davila, MD, Tribute to Rodney Appell, MD

On January 19, 2009 the urologic world prematurely lost one of its most respected and dynamic leaders.

There are clinicians, and then there are those clinicians who also contribute to research and to the education of students, residents, fellows and colleagues. But there are very few who are willing to further extend themselves as voluntary patient advocates by contributing to the activities of patient education and resource organizations, such as the NAFC. Rodney Appell, MD was one of those truly unique individuals. He continuously dedicated himself to the well-being of patients with incontinence and other Pelvic Floor problems. He spent 18 (!!) years on the NAFC’s Board of Directors and preceded me as Chairman of the Board. His tireless efforts were invaluable for the accomplishment of NAFC’s mission. In 2008, he was rightfully recognized for all his efforts by being awarded the Continence Care Champion Award, NAFC’s highest level of recognition.

Rod held academic positions at Louisiana State, the Cleveland Clinic and Baylor College of Medicine before joining Vanguard Urology in Houston, TX. Highlights of his academic career included contributions to the development of novel anti-incontinence procedures such as slings, bulking agents and office non-surgical therapies. He was most proud of the many students, residents and fellows he mentored throughout his academic career. As a friend and colleague, I was among those who continuously received his advice, suggestions and support. Never soft-spoken, Rod greatly contributed to the professional growth of many colleagues, including myself, and drafted many of us to contribute our efforts with him at the NAFC.

The NAFC will not be the same without Rod Appell.  We all share in the emptiness left by his absence, most especially with his loving wife Susan and sons Jarett and Gordon. 

Rod, please keep looking after the NAFC. You will certainly still be present with us as we continue to fulfill the NAFC’s mission.

I encourage all those who knew Rod – and those who would like to extend his efforts on behalf of the NAFC – to contribute generously to the patient education fund that will carry his name.

G. Willy Davila, MD
Chairman of the Board

A Tribute to Rodney A. Appell, MD, FACS

I have known Rod Appell for as long as I have been involved with the National Association For Continence, more than a decade.  He served on the NAFC Board for 18 years, from 1989 through 2007, five of those years on the Executive Committee including a term as Chairman of the Board.  I can personally attest to his commitment to excellence in the field of continence, his dedication to only the highest of standards, and his unfaltering allegiance to patient-centered care.  He has touched and strengthened the lives of thousands of individuals, too many to count.  Professionally, he was a highly respected leader in the field and instrumental in the nurturing and growth of the Society of Urodynamics & Female Urology (SUFU).  As a teacher, he mentored young doctors in training, helping them refine their surgical skills and their diagnostic acumen.  As a researcher, his contributions were broad and always supportive of innovative technology that sought to improve the lives of patients.   He traveled extensively and delivered over 220 invited lectureships and symposia, published over 100 articles or editorials in peer reviewed journals, authored nearly four dozen book chapters, and presented scientific papers at approximately 850 assemblies around the globe.  It should come as no surprise that he was honored by NAFC in 2008 as one of our Continence Care Champions.  I enjoyed celebrating his many achievements and contributions when presenting the award to him in Miami at the SUFU annual conference.

At NAFC, Rod was involved on multiple fronts.   He helped to outline the early criteria for inclusion in NAFC’s continence resource database, initially managed manually and subsequently added to the Web site so visitors could search for themselves by zip code for local experts.   He believed strongly in the need for an editorial, clinical review of NAFC’s newsletter and was one of the first professionals to serve in this capacity.  He remained on the review panel for a dozen years.  He authored numerous articles himself for Quality Care®, particularly on those topics of greatest interest to him:  surgical treatment of stress urinary incontinence in women, pharmacological agents for overactive bladder, injectable agents for SUI, electrical and magnetic stimulation of nerves, and bladder neck support prosthesis for women.  He was central in Board leadership discussion on issues of transparency and disclosure and served at the time of his death on our task force for launching a centers of excellence initiative.  He was also a generous supporting patron of NAFC and among top individual donors over the years.  In addition, he actively recruited other leaders in the field to serve on the Board alongside him – such as Drs. Jean Fourcroy, Lindsey Kerr, and Roger Dmochowski – and routinely extended personal appeals among his peers for financial contributions to NAFC.

Rod Appell died on Monday, January 19th, at the young age of 61 at his home in Houston.  He will be remembered by all of us for his openness, the directness and clarity with which he expressed his opinions, his integrity, his intellect, and, above all, his inimitable wit.  He will be sorely missed.

While our hearts are heavy with the sorrow of this loss, we remain grateful for the many blessings that Rod personally bestowed upon our organization.  We offer thanks to God for good men like him and pray that his wife and family will be inspired by the legacy he has left. 

Nancy Muller
Executive Director