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In Memoriam: Charles “Ty” Tuggle MD 1982-2022

February 06, 2023
by Henry C. Hsia

It is with profound sadness that we share the news that Dr. Charles T. Tuggle passed away on December 29, 2022, at the age of 40. Known as Ty to his family, friends, and colleagues, Dr. Tuggle grew up in Memphis, TN where he attended Christian Brothers High School and went on to the University of Georgia where he received a Foundation Fellowship, UGA’s top academic scholarship. After graduating Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and first in his class in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, Ty spent a year in Japan studying at the Kyoto University of Foreign Studies before coming to New Haven for his medical studies where he graduated from the Yale School of Medicine with honors in 2011.

And we were most fortunate that we were able to recruit Ty to stay on to complete his residency training in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery at Yale-New Haven Hospital, finishing in 2017, and then pursuing a year of subspecialty training in Hand Surgery at the Curtis National Hand Center in Baltimore before taking on a faculty position at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans where he established a thriving academic practice, becoming known for his deep expertise in congenital hand problems and complex traumatic hand injuries. Ty rose to the rank of Associate Professor and became Director of Resident Education at University Medical Center New Orleans with ambitions to build a world-class hand program. He was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons as well as the American Society for Surgery of the Hand who had selected him for their Young Leaders Program, and he was chosen for UGA’s 2020 class of “40 under 40” which recognizes and honors young UGA alumni who are “leading the pack in their industries and communities.”

With many specialty options as a plastic surgeon, Ty chose reconstructive hand surgery because of its surgical complexity and challenges, and because it allowed him to enable people who also worked with their hands to regain their sense of self-reliance, dignity, and worth. For Ty, there was a special beauty and purpose in restoring the functions of others’ hands through the labors of his own. He also loved children and took deep satisfaction in his congenital hand work at the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans. Ty was born to be a surgeon, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Dr. Matthew Wood, and uncle, also Dr. Matthew Wood, both distinguished neurosurgeons.

With his many accomplishments and bright future, Ty fought a courageous two-year battle with brain cancer. For eighteen months of this battle, he continued to use his surgical skills to help those who needed him, returning to the operating room even after he himself had undergone brain surgery and throughout his chemotherapy treatments. When asked why he continued to work long, hard hours instead of indulging his personal interests, he always answered that the meaning of life is to be found in the voluntary adoption of responsibility. And for him, that was to make others’ lives better.

Dr. Ty Tuggle is survived by his parents Charles and Jean Tuggle of Memphis, TN, his siblings William (Miranda) of Atlanta, GA and Mary (Russell) of New York, NY, his wife Dr. Vera Hendrix, a surgical breast oncologist in New Orleans, his young son Alexander, and his yet-to-be born daughter Mila who will arrive in this world in March 2023. Despite an all too brief life, Ty traveled widely, mastered Japanese, excelled at many of hand surgery’s most challenging procedures, loved his family, married the woman of his dreams, and lived and died with dignity. He is survived by a heartbroken but incredibly proud family.

And he also leaves behind an extensive community of colleagues, mentors, and friends who are all very proud to have had the privilege of knowing and working with Ty. Dr. John Persing, who was Chief of Plastic Surgery during Ty’s years at Yale, remembers Ty Tuggle as a surgeon who even as a resident “routinely treated patients in a manner befitting a more seasoned physician, whose wisdom was reflected outwardly by a calm demeanor, giving a sense of reassurance to a patient that things would likely be ‘ok’.” Ty had a unique combination of laser-focused intensity and intellectual power mixed with a genuine and disarming graciousness that made him an incredibly effective surgeon and also a wonderful human being. Yale is very fortunate to have had the privilege of playing such a key role in his professional development and to be able to call Dr. Ty Tuggle one of our best and brightest.

Contributions in Ty’s memory can be made to any of the following organizations: Church Health Center Memphis, National Brain Tumor Society, Musella Foundation for Brain Tumor Research and Information, or the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke.

Dr. Tuggle's family contributed and collaborated on this memoriam.

Submitted by Stevi Kramer on February 07, 2023