Issam F. “Sam” El Damalouji, a family doctor and surgeon who practiced in Calvert County for more than 50 years, passed away on July 13, 2023 after an extended illness. He was 96.
“Dr. Sam,” as he was commonly known, arrived in southern Maryland in 1961, an era when doctors routinely made house calls, held evening office hours to accommodate working families, and stocked medications in the absence of pharmacies.
Although trained as a surgeon, Damalouji started a family practice in Prince Frederick to supplement his surgical practice and quickly established himself in Calvert County, which numbered less than 15,000 people in the early 1960s and was served by only four doctors.
He was soon elected chief of the medical staff at the 29-bed facility then known as Calvert Hospital, a post he would hold for more than 35 years. While serving as chief, he helped write the first medical staff bylaws and recruited a host of physicians in the fields of cardiology, obstetrics, pediatrics, radiology, and internal medicine. These efforts led to the first accreditation for the hospital.
He also served more than two decades on the hospital’s board of directors and was a driving force in the expansion of the 29-bed facility to the current multi-unit Calvert Health Medical Center operation.
When reminiscing, Damalouji was proudest of the longevity of his practice, but always highlighted the generosity that people in Calvert showed in welcoming an immigrant and his family into their community.
Damalouji was born in Mosul, Iraq, in 1926 and attended public schools in Baghdad. He graduated from the Royal College of Medicine in Baghdad in 1950 and went on to serve as the junior surgeon at the city’s Royal Teaching Hospital. He came to the United States in 1952 and completed four years as a resident in general surgery at Western Pennsylvania Hospital in Pittsburgh, Penn. He returned to Iraq in 1956 and worked as a staff surgeon/instructor at the Royal Teaching Hospital and later as chief surgeon at the Kirkuk Hospital.
He came back to the United States in 1959 as a Resident Fellow in Chest Surgery at Presbyterian Hospital in Knoxville, Tenn. After graduating from that program, he then completed an additional residency in Tuberculosis Surgery at Florida Southwest Hospital in Tampa, Fla.
He is survived by his former wife Joan; children David, James, Joseph, Lisa (Hartwell), and Robert; 13 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a son, Richard, in 2014.
A visitation service will be held on July 30 from 2-6pm at Lee Funeral Home Calvert, 8200 Jennifer Lane, Owings, MD 20736.
The Dr. Issam F. “Sam” El Damalouji Memorial Fund has been established at the Calvert Health Foundation to support advancement in the medical center's Surgery Center, particularly for the purchase of new, state-of-the-art surgical equipment. In lieu of flowers, the Damalouji family invites friends and family to make a gift to the Dr. Issam F. "Sam" El Damalouji Memorial Fund. Gifts can be made online at https://www.calverthealthfoundation.org/Damalouji-Memorial-Fund or by mail to Calvert Health Foundation, PO Box 2127, Prince Frederick, MD, 20678.