Women's History Month: Honoring Dr. Liebe Diamond


In an era when few women practiced medicine, Liebe Sokol Diamond, M.D., broke the gender barrier to become a world-renowned pediatric orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Diamond guided dozens of medical residents at area hospitals, including Sinai Hospital of Baltimore. As we celebrate Women's History Month, we reflect on the life and accomplishments of a woman who achieved many significant firsts while tackling a rare but severe congenital disease that left her with partial finger amputations.

Dr. Diamond's career began with a series of noteworthy achievements. She trained in pediatrics and general surgery at Sinai Hospital before becoming the first female resident and first female orthopedic surgical resident at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in 1957.  In 1963, Dr. Diamond became only the 14th woman in the United States to become board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. Over 7,000 male counterparts dominated orthopedics in the United States during this time. 

Dr. Diamond didn't let her deformities stop her from following her calling. She was born with a rare condition called constriction ring syndrome, or Streeter's Dysplasia, which occurs when the amniotic sac becomes tangled and amputates parts of the fingers and toes. As a result, Dr. Diamond underwent over 25 surgeries to correct these complications during her childhood. 

Custom-made surgical gloves helped her overcome her finger deficits and successfully practice medicine for more than 30 years.

"Dr. Diamond was a unique and brilliant trendsetter because women at that time did not go into orthopedic surgery because it involves a great deal of physicality in operative and nonoperative treatment of patients," says Jerome Reichmister, M.D., one of Dr. Diamond's former residency students at Sinai Hospital and former chief of Orthopedic Surgery at Sinai Hospital. "It's remarkable that she could perform complex, physical surgeries with her condition." 
In an interview with the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, Dr. Diamond stated, "I have the equipment; it's not a problem." 

Dr. Diamond had a private practice in Baltimore beginning in the 1960s and was the medical staff president at the James Lawrence Kernan Hospital in Dickeyville. Later, she treated patients at the Curtis National Hand Center in Baltimore and Sinai. In addition, Dr. Diamond was one of eight founders of the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America. She also served as president of the Maryland Orthopedic Society and was founder and president of the Ruth Jackson Society of Female Orthopedic Surgeons. Dr. Diamond also held teaching positions at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland.

In 2006, Dr. Diamond was inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame for her exemplary decades-long work in orthopedics. 

Before Dr. Diamond passed away from leukemia in 2017, she furthered her lifelong commitment to education through a $1 million endowment to Sinai's pediatric residency program. The three-year program gives medical school graduates a thorough preparation for general pediatric practice and a strong foundation for training in subspecialties, such as neonatology, pediatric hematology/oncology and pediatric orthopedics. 

The custom surgical gloves made from molds of both of her hands are displayed in Sinai Hospital's Schoeneman 2nd Floor clinic waiting area at Sinai Hospital, inspiring residents, fellows, orthopedic surgeons and members of the public.