Thirty-five years ago, as an obstetrics/gynecology resident, Carey Andrew-Jaja worked with an attending physician who loved to sing and occasionally serenaded newborn babies as he worked.
Andrew-Jaja, a Pitt clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences who is known for going about his own work with an infectious joy and an engaging smile, recalls what his singing colleague said when he retired: “He asked me, ‘Andy, do you sing to your babies?’ And I said, ‘No, that’s your stuff.’ He said, ‘Go ahead. Do it.’ And so I took it over. He passed the baton to me. I started to sing to my babies ever since then, and I do it every single time.”
Andrew-Jaja was just appointed president of the medical staff at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC. But he has been a memorable influence on Pitt medical students and residents for many years. And in summer 2014, he became a YouTube sensation when a video from the previous year went viral. In it, he croons “Happy Birthday” and “What a Wonderful World” to newborns at Magee. The video has been watched more than a million times and was covered by news outlets around the world. Scores of colleagues and patients’ families responded with personal stories of their meaningful interactions with “the singing doctor,” as he is known around the hospital.
Of the infants he welcomes into the world, in the video, Andrew-Jaja says, “They are special. Each of them is an individual, and I’ve delivered thousands and thousands of babies. When I’m singing to those babies, I think: I’m singing to a future important person. That’s the credit I give to them.”