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Donald Liu, Chicago Pediatric Surgeon, Dies Trying To Save Two Kids From Lake Michigan [Video]

donald-liu-dies lake michigan cherry beach 2012

A well-known and well-liked pediatric surgeon from Chicago reportedly died this weekend during a heroic effort to save two children from drowning in Lake Michigan.

Dr. Donald Liu, the Comer Children’s Hospital’s Chief of Pediatric Surgery was with his wife and kids for a weekend getaway when he spotted two children struggling at Cherry Beach in Berrien County, Michigan, the Chicago Tribune writes.

The Tribune added that during his rescue attempt, Liu, a skilled surgical oncologist who specialized in removing tumors from children’s chests and abdomens, was pulled underwater by a powerful rip current.

Though the 50-year-old doctor was successful in saving the children, he went under before rescue crews could arrive.

“He managed to help them but he got pulled down by the undertow himself,” said friend and colleague Dr. Jeffrey Matthews, chairman of surgery at the University of Chicago Hospitals. “He really died a hero.”

Matthews said Liu had joined the University of Chicago department of surgery in 2001 and recently received a “distinguished clinician” award.

“We know that given the same set of circumstances, he would have done it again.” Matthews added. “[Liu] would do anything for the children.”

Liu is survived by his wife, Dr. Dana Suskind, and three children: Genevieve, 13, Asher, 10, and Amalie, 7.

In addition to Liu, two other men drowned on Sunday as high winds and waves swept Michigan’s west coast, according to dispatch supervisor for Berrien Country, Jeff Thornton.

“The other victims were a 41-year-old from Montgomery, Ill., and a 40-year-old from Cincinnati,” Thornton said.

ABC 7 has more information on the tragic drowning death of Dr. Donald Liu at Lake Michigan’s Cherry Beach in the video below:

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17 Responses to “Donald Liu, Chicago Pediatric Surgeon, Dies Trying To Save Two Kids From Lake Michigan [Video]”

  1. John Briere

    god bless you sir. thanks for your heroism. I hope its some small consolation to your family that you are in fact a HERO. more people could take a lesson from this. thank you..

  2. Norma Linda Vazquez

    OMG! I'm so sorry for his family, he did what his heart dictated! what an awesome human being! my prayers are with his family!:""(.

  3. Joeslyn Wehbe

    So sorry to hear this, god bless his soul. What a hero!

  4. Claudette Filiputti

    Sad a Dad and husband is lost to his family, but inspiring the way he lost his life. He was definitely a champion of children! R.I. P. Dr. Liu, your work on Earth was special and you have fulfilled the reason you were born. Thank you.

  5. Norma Linda Vazquez

    by the way.. why were these kidz unsupervised?

  6. Norma Linda Vazquez

    by the way.. why were these kidz unsupervised?

  7. Bob Pratt

    Dr. Liu is a true hero. There were 6 fatal drownings on the Great Lakes Sunday. According to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project there have been 69 fatal drownings on the Great Lakes so far this year, last year there were 87. Rip currents are the biggest danger on the Great Lakes and everyone should learn what to do if they're caught in one. FLIP, FLOAT and FOLLOW!
    FLIP over onto your back and try to keep from panicking.
    FLOAT with the current to see where it is taking you, DO NOT FIGHT against the current, it’s like a treadmill.
    FOLLOW the safest path back to safety. There is no such thing as “undertow” the current will not pull you down. Control the panic and go with the flow.
    For more information:

  8. Kara Scott Herring

    Dr. Donald Liu saved my daughter's life on June 28th. We flew in from Florida for a special visit to see him, Dr. Skelly, and Christopher Speaker. Her artery was 100% blocked due to MALS and both surgeons restored her artery and blood flow as well as her life. She has been in pain all of her life, and after surgery she said, "Mom I can breathe". I pray for his soul, his family, his staff, the hospital, and for all MALS patients. I don't imagine he would want to leave this world any other way than saving children. Thank you for giving my daughter her life back Dr. Liu! God Bless You All.

  9. Patty Littell Millard

    Very sorry his wife and children. How many more need to die before people stay out of Lake Michigan when the waves are too big. I just don't understand it.

  10. John Briere

    all I can say is that my previous comment, meant alot. I happen to have two children I'm raising alone and I could only hope id be so lucky. id also like to think id do the same thing if confronted with the same issue that this wonderful human showed. I can only hope that his children realize someday what he did. that while he wanted to take care of his children, like I do every day, that there are more important things in the world. this place is crazy enough, and enough crud happens, without all this negativity…the ME mentality. id also like to think my daughter and their mother, would explain to my autistic 12 yr old son, why his dad wasnt around anymore. maybe someday, he would understand. my heart aches for his children, but if in case they ever get to see these posts from all you wonderful ppl, rest assured, his thoughts are, were, and always with you. mine would be for my two.

  11. Michele Lome

    He operated on my 3 month old and was amazingly comforting and did an excellent job. So sad to lose such a great individual.

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