Always side-by-side

When Dr. Vartkes and Mary V. Najaryan received their awards at this year’s “Ellis Island Medal of Honor” ceremony on May 10, they became the first married couple of any background to receive the award in the same year.
It was just one many “firsts” punctuating the lives of this remarkable couple.
The professionalism and philanthropy of Dr. Vartkes and Mary Najaryan is well known not only in American life but also in Armenia, Karabakh, and the Armenian-American community.

Together, Dr. Vartkes Najaryan, on acclaimed American Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon, and Mery Najarian, a registered operating room nurse, created the first “arthroscopic surgery system” in Yerevan, Armenia, 24 years ago during the country’s Soviet period. Returning to their home in California, they founded Medical Outreach for Armenians.

During Armenia’s 1988 earthquake crisis, the U.S. State Department sent Najarians to tend to the dire conditions of the survivors.
In Armenia, Medical Outreach initiated the first Eye Care Center, the Orphan Care Project, and laid the foundation for the Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Center in Armenia. During the Karabakh war, their lives in constant danger, they operated in trenches and tents, saving the lives of hundreds of soldiers and amputees.

In Karabakh they were responsible for having 30-bed hospital built with two modern operating rooms and an emergency center. In 1992, at the height of the conflict, 53 containers of medical and surgical supplies were delivered to Katabakh, more than 9.000 civilians and soldiers received treatment in the emergency center. At the request of the late Vasgen Sargsyan they turned a 450-bed military hospital in Yerevan into a state-of–the–art facility with the assistance of MAP, International Aid, Brother to Brother world Vision and the Armenian-American community.

In the United States, Medical Outreach has had several fundraisers and six telethons. The total contribution of Medical Outreach to Armenia and Karabakh, in goods and services, surpasses 46 million dollars.
In the U.S., their adopted country, Dr. Vartkes and Mary Najarian have donated free care to many indigent patients. Dr. Najarian has provided free physicals to more than 2.000 students every year, for 15 years.

Among her many volunteer services Mary Najarian for 15 years volunteered her services for the American Red Cross Bloodmobile Unit, and received a gold medal from former First Lady Rosalyn Carter.
Among the prestigious honors the Najarians have received in recognition of their contributions is the “Fridtjof Nansen Award”-an honor bestowed on only 20 other outstanding individuals, including Mother Theresa, U.S President George H. W. Bush, French President Francois Mitterrand, and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

In 1997, the late Vasgen Sargsyan (Armenian’s Minister of Defense) bestowed on Dr. Najarian the rank of “honorary colonel” of the Armenian armed forces, in recognition of the doctor’s services.
The Najarians have also received letters of commendation from Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Governor George Deukmejian, U.S. Senator Pete Wilson, the Californian Senate, and a Soviet Medal of Honor by Soviet Ambassador V. Dubinin.

Dr. Vartkes Najarian, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a fellow of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons, and a fellow of the International College of Surgeons, was honored with a pontifical letter of commendation from Catholicos of All Armenians Vasken I. He was named “Man of the Year” by the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, the Armenian Professional Society of Los Angeles, and the Armenian American Citizen’s League. He has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the California Armenian American Medical Society.

In her own right, Mary Najarian was honored with the “St. Nersess Shnorhali Medal” by Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II. She received an honorary doctorate degree from Yerevan State University, was named “Woman of the Year” by the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, and received a special testimonial by the Ararat Home of Los Angeles.

The Najarians, who live in La Candada, Calif, have four children: Ara Najarian, a former mayor of Glendale and presently a city councilman, Armen, a developer, Dr. Raffi, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S Air Force and an Iraqi war veteran: and Maro Yacoubian, an attorney. The Najarians have been blessed with seven grandchildren.