June 29, 1936 – Jan. 24, 2020
Dr. Datta G. Wagle was well on his way toward his goal of becoming a surgeon when he began a residency at what was then Roswell Park Memorial Institute in the early 1960s.
He was already board-certified and wanted to subspecialize in cancer surgery.
His first rotation took him to urology, where the department chairman, Dr. Marvin Woodruff, invited him to become the first urology resident under a joint program with the Cleveland Clinic.
In Cleveland, he trained under the father of dialysis, Dr. Willem Kolff, who created the first artificial kidney.
Dr. Wagle returned to Roswell Park as an attending urologist, performing dialysis and kidney transplants. He was part of the team that did the first clinical trial of a serum prostate-specific antigen discovered in the Roswell Park laboratories.
He went on to a career as one of the Buffalo area’s most prominent urologists. Chairman of urology at Sisters Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital from 1972 to 2009, he was the first Western New York physician to serve as president of the American Urological Association.
He died Jan. 24 in Sisters Hospital after a lengthy illness. He was 83.
Born Dattatraya G. Wagle in a village near Bombay, India, the oldest of six children, he attended a missionary high school operated by the Church of Scotland.
He went to medical school at Bombay University on scholarship.
In 1960, he was part of the first group of Indian physicians to go to the United States for postgraduate studies.
“After a 32-hour journey, I arrived at Deaconess Hospital in Buffalo, New York, at 11:30 at night with eight dollars in my pocket, not knowing a soul,” he recalled in an article he wrote for the Canadian Journal of Urology’s “Legends of Urology” series in 2012.
“I spent that first night sleeping on a hard, wooden EKG table, since all the hospital beds were taken. My earlier training to obtain the equivalent to an Eagle Scout medal served me well, however, and I was able to weather such adversities in the early stages of my career.”
During his residency at Deaconess, he met Sue Ann Finn, a registered nurse there. They were married in 1964.
Dr. Wagle, an Amherst resident, began private practice in 1974 and continued part time as an attending urologist at Roswell Park. He continued seeing patients until 2013.
“He was always busy,” his wife said. “He loved what he did. He was in the hospital at 6 a.m. It was his whole life.”
In 1997, he was a founding member of the board of directors of the Catholic Health System of Western New York. He served on the committee that oversaw the consolidation of Sisters and St. Joseph hospitals.
He became a member of the New York State Office of Professional Medical Conduct in 1991 and was appointed by Gov. George Pataki in 2003 to serve on the Administrative Review Board of New York State for Public Safety and Physician Discipline. He was elected to the Federation of State Medical Boards House of Delegates in 2013.
Dr. Wagle became a clinical associate professor of urology at the University at Buffalo Medical School in 1976 and an adjunct clinical associate professor of surgery at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine and New York Institute of Technology in 2000.
He was a visiting professor in Brazil, Mexico, India, Poland and Hungary.
He authored more than 135 medical journal articles and book chapters and was included in several “Who’s Who” books.
In addition to serving as president of the American Urological Association in 2010-2011, he was member of the board of directors of the AUA and its foundation for many years.
He was a past president of the AUA’s Northeastern Section, the New York State Urological Society, the Buffalo Urological Society and the American Association of Clinical Urologists.
The recipient of numerous honors, he was given the AUA’s Distinguished Service Award in 1999, the Dr. G. M. Phadke Memorial Oration Award from the annual conference of the Urological Society of India in 2000 and the St. Joseph Hospital Foundation’s Caritas Award in 2001.
He was an honorary life member of urology societies in Brazil, India and Mexico.
In addition to his wife, survivors include four daughters, Linda Pedro, Mona Bargnesi, Sonya Freeman and Amanda Meyer; two brothers, Sharad and Manohar; a sister, Hemlata; and seven grandchildren.
A Hindu service was held Jan. 29 in Amigone Funeral Home, 5200 Sheridan Drive, Amherst.