By Frances Wang

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – After decades of treating thousands of patients, world-renowned South Florida surgeon Dr. Barth Green, performed his final surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital on Friday morning and received a touching tribute from his colleagues.

Dr. Green has treated thousands of patients suffering from neurological disorders in the past five decades, with most of his surgical career at JMH. He also served as a professor and former chairman at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and co-founded The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.

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Following his final surgery, Dr. Green was surprised and honored by his colleagues and family.

“I think the most important thing I was taught by one of my mentors, ‘the past is history, the future is a mystery. Each day is a gift and that is why we call it the present’,” said Dr. Green, taking in the moment.

A surgeon’s lounge on the 3rd floor of the Diagnostic Treatment Center will be named in Dr. Green’s honor.

He may be retiring from his surgical practice, but he’ll still have a busy future, serving as the Executive Dean for Global Health and Community Service at the University of Miami Health System.

Dr. Green said he’ll be spending more time focusing on disaster response in places including the Bahamas, Ecuador, Peru, Haiti, and India.

“I believe the opportunity to help people will be even greater now,” said Dr. Green. “Then being tied up in the operating room thirty to forty hours a week.”

There are many layers to Dr. Green, who has many stories you wouldn’t have imagined outside of the surgery room.

“I was kidnapped in Medellín, Colombia by the Medellín cartel. I was the doctor of the leader of China after the Cultural Revolution, his son was paralyzed. I was in Russia followed by the KGB,” said Dr. Green. “Thirty-seven years in the military as a medical officer so I’ve had a very exciting life.”

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An exciting life is an understatement. Dr. Green also has a great sense of humor.

“I wouldn’t change anything about [my life], except my age,” he joked.

At Dr. Green’s core, he is someone who cares deeply for his patients and always aims to connect medicine with humanity.

In 2012, CBS4 was in Haiti, following Dr. Green’s Project Medishare, which opened one of the only critical care hospitals in the country following the 2010 earthquake.

“I’m not sure I’ve changed the world. I try to treat patients like family,” said Dr. Green, something he also tries to instill in his students and those who learn under him.

Speaking of family, it’s his own family, who despite all the fanfare, keeps Dr. Green humble on a daily basis.

“My job is picking up whatever [the dogs] leave in the yard, presents for me, take out the garbage,” said Dr. Green.

Dr. Green said his wife, a former nurse, has been essential in keeping him grounded over the years.

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“A great human being and very good looking still. I’m lucky,” said Dr. Green, with a mischievous smile.

Frances Wang