DURHAM, N.C. - A medical pioneer's legacy will live on thanks to a major donation to Duke University.

The Medical Center Archives recently received an extensive collection of Dr. Onye Akwari. His wife donated his materials in December. Akwari served as the hospital's first black surgeon in 1978. He worked at the hospital until 1995.

"I believe that we'll have a very full picture of who he was both personally and professionally," archivist Lucy Waldrop says.

Waldrop and her staff are still processing the items. The collection includes family photos, awards, regalia, videos, personal manuscripts, and research papers. Akwari focused his practice on gastrointestinal hormones.

Waldrop says many people also saw him as a mentor. He launched the Society of Black Academic Surgeons and promoted civil rights on campus.

"He was a prominent voice and proponent of bringing minority studies and women's studies to Duke," she adds.

Akwari died in April 2019 at 76. Waldrop hopes to make his items publicly available in late spring.