Dr. Jean-Martin Laberge: All in a life’s work…

"I love life," says Dr. Jean-Martin Laberge. “I am a very optimistic person. And I think that if you treat others the way you would like to be treated then you are one step ahead.

By Julia Asselstine

With this positive attitude and a desire to serve, Dr. Laberge has paved a path for himself that has included many accomplishments, accolades and personal satisfaction. He is a world-renowned pediatric surgeon, the immediate past Director of the Division of Pediatric General Surgery, as well as past Director of the Pediatric Surgery Residency Program at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, Professor of Surgery at the McGill University Faculty of Medicine, and possibly one of the most liked doctors in North America. If you check out www.ratemds.com to read patient testimonials you will see that he is one of only a handful of doctors, among thousands, who has a perfect score of ‘5’!

But for Dr. Laberge, happiness does not stem entirely from work. He is also an avid outdoorsman. He loves all kinds of sports including downhill skiing, windsurfing, scuba diving, sailing, golfing, fishing, and canoeing. And he enjoys gardening with his world-renowned pediatric plastic surgeon wife Louise Laberge of almost 32 years. Together Dr. Laberge and Dr. Laberge have also traveled immensely, including taking part in medical missions abroad in Africa (two missions were completely organized by his wife), Ecuador, Mexico and China.

According to Dr. Sherif Emil, the new MCH director of Pediatric General Surgery, Dr. Laberge is an individual who believes, lives, and exemplifies three basic qualities found in only the most exemplary of physicians. “This includes treating every child the way we would want our children to be treated, paying our mentors forward by mentoring those who follow us and doing everything in our capacity to create the best physicians and surgeons of tomorrow, and furthering medical and surgical science with an attitude of constant inquisitiveness and an innovative approach to research,” says Dr. Emil. 

In his 26-year career at the MCH, Dr. Laberge has pioneered multiple pediatric surgical treatments. He also brought national attention to The Children’s in 2000 when he led a team of over 25 physicians in removing a massive growth on a baby’s neck immediately after birth. This led to the development of the McGill Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment Group, nurtured and led by Dr. Laberge.  This group takes care of dozens of mothers and fetuses in high-risk pregnancies every month.  And it has been a prototype for similar groups in North America.

Current assistant Chantal Lefrancois and past assistant Vassi Kessaris, both agree that Dr. Laberge is a very special person. Going over and above the call of duty is just part of his daily job.

When asked what he is most proud of, Dr. Laberge does not hesitate to say his entire family, which includes four children and two young granddaughters, who for sure he says are his greatest achievement. “I love spending time with my family and we love being together as a family,” says Dr. Laberge as he leans back in his chair—content with life.