After 49 years of specializing in vaginal-breech births and delivering more than 20,000 babies in Glendale throughout his career as an obstetrician, Dr. Ronald Wu is ready for a new chapter in his life.
Wu, 75, retired and closed his private practice at Glendale Adventist Medical Center on June 30.
"It's been 31 days now, and I'm still transitioning," Wu said during a phone interview Monday. "I'm still here to see them pick up their medical records, and they understand it's time for me to move on."
Wu earned a reputation for successfully helping patients with difficult pregnancies and for his dedication to patients, sometimes canceling family vacations to help an expectant mother who might face a difficult delivery.
He became known for being one of the few healthcare providers in Los Angeles County who performed vaginal-breech deliveries.
Vaginal breech involves bringing the baby out buttocks or feet first instead of head first.
Born in China, Wu remembers learning his second-grade teacher died of a postpartum hemorrhage. Having fond memories of all of his educators, Wu said he was encouraged to pursue a career in the medical field after learning of the tragic incident.
He earned his bachelor's degree from Union College in Nebraska and his medical degree from Loma Linda University. He earned a fellowship at USC's Keck School of Medicine, where he underwent postdoctoral training in perinatal biology.
Wu served as an intern at Glendale Adventist Medical Center in 1968 before permanently joining its staff in 1972.
During his internship, Wu said he saw a woman going through childbirth, and it was then that he made the decision to become an obstetrician and gynecologist.
"These events come to mind when I think back on when I decided to be a doctor," he said. "I love delivering babies and seeing the joy and the love and happiness of seeing a new family is so fulfilling."
He describes himself as an "old-school doctor" who understands "women want choices" when giving birth — such as the option to forgo a cesarean section for a vaginal-breech delivery. Patients have traveled from as far away as China and India specifically seeking his services, he said.
Burbank resident Dominique O'Brien was Wu's patient for 19 years. Wu delivered all seven of her children.
"I've been blessed with his wisdom and kindness," O'Brien said. "His dedication to his patients is incomprehensible even outside of the office."
O'Brien said Wu delivered her youngest child, Cassidy, even when facing complications that would have led many other doctors to perform a cesarean section.
"The baby was coming brow presentation," she said, referring to a situation where the baby's neck and head are extended. "She was stuck behind my pelvic bone, but he's definitely an old school doctor and he was able to deliver her vaginally."
Reflecting back on his years of work, Wu said he credits his staff for helping him.
"I have come to grips on what is important in my life now. I may have worked until I'm 100 if I didn't have my family, but now it's time to think about them," Wu said.