Myles J. Cohen – EPHS Class of 1958, 2018 Outstanding EX
Two characteristics launched Myles J. Cohen’s personal passions and his professional and humanitarian callings because he attended El Paso High School. First, because his teachers really cared about their students, he developed a real love for learning. He said, “They laid the foundation for my quest to learn. I still believe if a day goes by that I haven’t learned something, it’s a day I have wasted.”
Second, was the diversity of ethnic and religious backgrounds and cultures of the EPHS Student Body never affected the respect students had for one another. He said, “We worked together, liked each other, played together, horsed around together.” He realized, “everyone has value. Everyone should be respected for who they are.”
Myles met the most important person and love of his life, Cita, at EPHS. They had a blind date for the Homecoming Dance in October of his sophomore year. Two months later, that December, he proposed to Cita. He was 15 and she was 14 years old. Eight years later, Cita and Myles were married. They have two married sons, Matthew and Johnathan and two grandchildren, 13 and 2 years old.
Myles was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Manley and his wife, Lillian. When Myles was 12, his family moved to El Paso, where he attended Mesita School and El Paso High School.
In 1959, Myles’s father died as he was preparing for finals his freshman year, at Princeton University. He was offered a full scholarship there, where he worked 3 jobs while he went to class every day. He went on to Columbia Medical School, again on a full scholarship. His internship and both general surgical and orthopedic residencies were at UCLA School of Medicine. During the Vietnam War, he served in the US Air Force, at Sheppard Hospital in Wichita Falls, TX. As the casualties came home for treatment and rehabilitation, Myles developed his interest in the specialty of Hand Surgery.
His technical skills in hand surgery, plastic surgery and orthopedics became his passion and life’s work. He completed his residency in orthopedic surgery and completed a hand surgery fellowship at the University of Louisville, in Kentucky.
For over 40 years, Dr. Cohen served as Director of Hand and Upper Extremity Reconstructive Surgery for Cedars-Sinai Orthopaedic Center for Excellence, in Los Angeles, California and subsequently as the Chief of this specialty with the Department of Orthopedic Surgery. He held dual clinical professorships in surgery at both the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine and at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
In 1986, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, as a member of the International Medical Corps, Myles went 15 miles from the Khyber Pass, to train Afghan medics. He worked at two hospitals under very primitive and understaffed conditions. He taught at the Afghan Surgical Hospital reconstructing hand wounds and screening casualties for further treatments in facilities in other countries, including England, France and the USA.
While he was in Pakistan, one of his colleagues, who was Muslim asked him if he was Christian. Myles told him he was Jewish. He was told not to tell anyone else he was Jewish or he would be killed. Because of the man’s respect for him as a fellow human being, helping others in need, Myles changed the man’s opinion. Without thinking of their religious affiliations, they continued to work together.
For Myles, in his experience working in Afghanistan, he realized a most important affirmation which stemmed from his experiences at El Paso High School. He said, “All men are created equal. We need to talk to each other. We all want the same things.”
In 2017, a newly formed Levin/Gordon Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery, at Cedars-Sinai Hospital was established in his honor. He and his extraordinary life partner, Cita, will celebrate living between their new home, near their children and grandchildren, in Denver, Colorado, and in their lifelong retreat in Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
MYLES COHEN Outstanding Ex
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