Seattle's Top Doctors Gather for a Heartfelt (and Surprising) Evening

BMWs as far as the eye can see at McCaw Hall

The BMW's were thick on the ground at McCaw Hall last night at a gathering of Seattle's most revered surgeons, doctors and global-health superstars. Chauffered by sponsor BMW to the event were some of Seattle mag's Top Doctors Hall of Fame inductees--doctors so amazing, they've been chosen by their peers as the very best for ten years in a row.

Humbling to be in the presence of so much (humble) brilliance. When called to the stage to accept their award, to a person, they were earnest, emotive and very quick to point out that they are only one small part of a team. OK, fair enough, but when you are the one with the scalpel poised over the baby, you got to tolerate a smidge of admiration.

Especially when you are indisputedly the best at saving babies.

By all rights, this event should be shudderinly boring, but it's anything but. And I think the reason for that is that unrelenting and surprising humility. It doesn't hurt when your keynote speaker brings down the house. Kim Allison, a Mercer Island breast cancer pathologist of some note (and of some youth: at 33), has just waged an epic battle against...yep...breast cancer, and the devastating irony of her story (she called it "going down the rabbit hole") had audience members rapt. And then running home to do a little self-exam.

If that wasn't enough to put your personal malady tape-loop on pause, try listening to five "global health superstars" come up on stage to (humbly) accept an award for...oh, I don't know...helping thousands of blind people see again, or preventing thousands of women from dying of cervical cancer, or helping Uganda get their second, third and forth cancer doctor for the entire country.

The evening was beautiful, the venue, beautiful, the personal stories, staggering yet somehow understated. After a long, tedious year spent editing vetting, fact-checking, copyediting, writing, proofing, folding and spindling our Top Doctors list (yes, it takes a full year!), last night was like a lovely reward.

Our 2012 Top Docs issue is available on newsstands now.