History of SIGN

SIGN Fracture Care International is a charitable initiative in Richland WA founded by 1997 Kiwanis World Service Medal Laureate, Lewis G. Zirkle, Jr., MD, a Kiwanian.  

Dr. Zirkle, when he was a young surgeon in a MASH unit in Vietnam in the 1960s, saw there an enormous need for modern surgical treatment.  After nearly 30 years of semi-annual trips to teach modern surgical techniques to surgeons in Southeast Asia, Indonesia and Latin America brought disappointing results because the newly-trained surgeons had only the limited supplies of surgical implants that Dr. Zirkle was able to persuade American manufacturers to donate, he realized that progress would be limited until a way was found to provide the implants and associated surgical instruments as well as the training.  He also came to understand that a revised implant system was needed that did not require the use of real-time imaging equipment during surgery.

Dr. Zirkle, the 1997 recipient of the Kiwanis World Service Medal, received the International Humanitarian Award for his work in bringing the Kiwanis IDD project to Vietnam and working to insure its success.  Dr. Zirkle used the $10,000 monetary award he received and other resources to develop the SIGN Fracture Care International surgical technology and founded SIGN Fracture Care International in 1999 as a non-profit humanitarian organization.

Dr. Zirkle's goal is to Create Equality of Fracture Care Worldwide.  Although the developing countries of the world experience the vast majority of the world’s severe trauma – a major world health problem – most developing world hospitals do not have access to the technology needed for proper treatment.  In response to the need, Dr. Zirkle developed a revolutionary surgical procedure (including the invention of surgical implants and instruments).  He also created a training program so surgeons in developing countries could use SIGN Fracture Care International technology without modern in-surgery imaging equipment.  

Severely injured patients can stand on their injured limbs the day after surgery and are sufficiently healed to return to work in six weeks.  Without SIGN Fracture Care International, trauma victims face a lifetime as an invalid or death – often leading to the collapse of the family.  SIGN Fracture Care International provides the technology (valued at about $150 per patient) free of charge, and local surgeons provide the surgical procedures, all at no cost to the recipients.

To date, PNW Kiwanians and their clubs have donated more than $1,300,000 to KiwanisSIGN to establish 83 of SIGN’s nearly 300 Surgery Centers in 52 developing countries.  More than 41,000 patients at KiwanisSIGN surgery centers have already been restored to productive lives to date.  

Read more about SIGN Fracture Care International at www.sign-post.org.