“His name embodies what you want to see in medical education.” It was for this reason that Drs. James and Karen Small established the Dr. David Desha Endowment for Medical Education at LSU Health Shreveport in 2012.

James attended the LSU School of Medicine in the Class of 1982 immediately following graduation from LSU-S. After a long and successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, Karen too joined the LSU School of Medicine as a member of the Class of 2012. Despite having attended the medical school years apart, both James and Karen learned anatomy with the same professor and had the same sentiments. “Amazing- that’s exactly the word people will use when talking about Dr. DeSha.”

The Smalls donated over the years to the LSU Health Sciences Foundation, and were at a point in their careers where they wanted to do something substantial and give a gift that would make a real difference to others. They agreed that they wanted to establish a fund to benefit their alma mater in perpetuity, as well as attract and inspire others to give. And it had to honor Dr. DeSha. 

“He is the number one person whose name people will remember and, despite the large number of students who came through the medical school, he could likely call YOU by name.”

One benefit to establishing the fund in Dr. DeSha’s honor was that he could be active in stewarding how the dollars were used. His vision was to have an impact on the education and training across all the classes, with facilities and equipment upgrades, curriculum development and enhancement, and simulation lab and technological improvements. Additionally, the fund would provide the medical school flexibility to quickly address its highest priorities.

A favorite project of the Smalls was upgrading the tools in the anatomy department to give students both a virtual and a hands-on learning experience. Tying those things together allows students to understand the entire body. “What Dr. DeSha shows you translates into a surgical procedure or something you see in a medical clinic down the line.”

“We wanted to throw the first pebbles to get this rolling, and it has gone in exactly the direction we had hoped.” – Drs. James and Karen Small

Year after year, LSU Health Shreveport continues to benefit from the generosity and wisdom of the Smalls and their cherished professor. Dr. James Small practices in emergency medicine, and Dr. Karen Small in ophthalmology. Around the holidays, the Smalls make their annual charitable gift. Because of their initial gift and support of other generous donors, the DeSha Endowment has grown to nearly $200,000.

Dr. DeSha- who now has 45 years of service to the medical school- continues to welcome new classes of students, teach anatomy, and ensure that all donations to the Desha Endowment have a direct and meaningful impact on training generations of physicians.

“We wanted to throw the first pebbles to get this rolling, and it has gone in exactly the direction we had hoped.”