Said A. Karmi, 67, director of kidney transplantation at George Washington University from 1980 to 1995, died of complications of heart ailments June 6 at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. He was a former longtime resident of Chevy Chase.
Dr. Karmi, who also taught surgery and urology at GWU, performed more than 600 kidney transplants in the Washington area. He was named professor emeritus at the university in 1995.
He was a remarkable teacher who could simplify complex procedures and was a consummate surgeon, said Hrant Semerjian, clinical professor of urology at George Washington.
"He was above all a remarkable urological surgeon with extremely brilliant surgical skills and expertise," Semerjian said. "He was one of the few general surgeons certified in general surgery and urology, a superb surgeon, and loved by his students and colleagues because of his demeanor, his patience and teaching abilities."
Dr. Karmi was born in Acre, Palestine, the son of Abdul Karim al-Karmi, a poet laureate of Palestine known as "Abu Salma."
He received his bachelor's degree and medical degree in 1964 from American University of Beirut. While in college, he was a champion basketball player. He represented Syria three times in the Pan Arab Games, and he was captain of the arts and sciences varsity basketball team and the school of medicine varsity team at his university.
Dr. Karmi completed his general surgery residency at American University of Beirut about 1968 and his urology residency at Georgetown University in 1971.
For about four years, he served in the Jordanian army, becoming a major, and was chief of urology at the King Hussein Medical Center. In 1975, he returned to the United States and taught urology and surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. He also was co-director of transplantation at the medical center.
He was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Medical Society of the District of Columbia, the American Society of Transplantation and the Mid-Atlantic and American urological societies.
He lived in Washington for three years and in Chevy Chase from 1978 until April, when he moved to Los Angeles.
Rihab Massoud, a friend for almost 20 years, said Dr. Karmi's "utmost joy was when he was helping people."
He had a heart transplant 10 years ago and was disappointed when he was unable to perform surgery, Massoud said. "If someone was basically in need, he would go out of his way to help him."
Massoud recalled traveling with Dr. Karmi once to Los Angeles. The two were having dinner at a hotel in Beverly Hills, when one of the diners next to them fell out of his chair and fainted.
"Said was one of the first to rush over . . . and immediately acted to help him. He stayed with him until the ambulance came and started taking care of him until he got in the ambulance," Massoud recounted.
"He had little needs," Massoud said. "He was happy with a nice conversation, with his pipe . . . a game of cards . . . good friends. He wasn't a materialistic person."
Dr. Karmi also enjoyed reading.
Survivors include his wife, M.J. Karmi of Los Angeles; and three children, A. Karim Karmi, Serene Karmi and Dina Karmi, all of Los Angeles.