Dr. Roberto Canessa was born in Uruguay in 1953. He is married to Laura Surraco who was his girlfriend when the accident in the Andes took place. They have three children: Hilario, Roberto Martín and Laura Inés.
He is Doctor in Medicine, graduated from the Universidad de la República Oriental del Uruguay with a Post-degree in Cardiology and Paediatric Cardiology. He has been awarded with the National Prize in Medicine in 1986 and twice with the Great National Prize in Medicine, in 1991 and 1999.
Nowadays, Roberto is an eminent and renowned Paediatric Cardiologist, Director of the Cardiac Ultrasound Department and Prenatal diagnosis of Congenital Heart Diseases. He is working in the Non-invasive evaluation of Heart Transplant Program and is investigator of Fetal Cardiology at the Italian Hospital of Montevideo. In 1994 he founded the political fraction “Partido Azul” and was candidate for president in that election period.


rugbySince childhood, Roberto has been involved in sports and especially with rugby, which he learned to play in the Christian Brothers College and in which through the years he achieved a professional playing level.
An outstanding player, he still holds the record of Top Try Scorer in Uruguay.
In 1971 he was called to be a member of the National Rugby Team for Uruguay.
He has been a first division player for the Old Christians Club in the period 1971-1981.
In 1978 he was invited to represent Uruguay as a player of the "South America Fifteen"
Among his close friends, he owes his nickname "Músculo" (muscle) to his strength, his vitality, his apparently endless energy and his determined personality.
Now, he enjoys playing tennis with his friends at the Carrasco Lawn Tennis Club in Montevideo and supporting the Old Crhistians "first fifteen" at matches on Saturdays afternoons.
He presided the Old Christians Rugby Club until 2008.

The Andes Survivor

Roberto Canessa is worldwide known for being one of the 16 young men of a total of 45 who survived for 72 days in the Andes survivorin extreme conditions, when the plane he and his rugby team mates were in crashed into a mountain in the middle of the snow-capped Andes Cordillera.
He is one of the two men who stunned the world when they appeared alive in the Chilean Andes to tell there were still 14 friends trapped in the mountains, two months after being thought dead.
From the first moments after the crash, Roberto emerged as a natural leader, giving first aid to the wounded and in the shocking reality they were facing, caused by this unexpected accident, he played a key role in the actions and decisions that followed day after day.
The story of what happened has been widely documented in several books and films. After they had been finally rescued, the 16 survivors spoke their official account of the facts to British writer Piers Paul Read, who wrote the best seller "Alive" The Story of the Andes survivors.
In 1992, 20 years after, Film director Frank Marshall, based on this book along with Hollywood and Disney productions made the homonymous film "Alive" in which Roberto is characterized by actor Josh Hamilton. Roberto, along with other survivors, gave assistance to the making of the film in the Rocky Mountains in Canada.
In 2008, all 16 survivors gave their testimonials 36 years later in the multi-awarded Documentary film "Stranded: I've come from a plane that crashed in the Mountains", also issued in recent book from Pablo Vierci "La sociedad de la Nieve".

Roberto as a Motivational Speaker

When in December 22nd 1972, the day the world was astonished by the news that Roberto and his friend Nando had appeared in a remote valley in the Chilean pre-cordillera saying they came from the plane that had crashed 72 days before, Roberto and some of his fellow survivors started speaking about their incredible ordeal.
Throughout the years, Dr. Canessa has participated as a guest speaker in numerous TV robertodocumentaries, company conferences, social events, etc. As a result, he has gradually perfectioned a presentation supported by actual images of the plane wreck, the survivors and the environment in which this amazing episode took place.
The dynamics of human groups in situations of crisis has given way to many theories about leadership, team search of solutions and optimization of the qualities of each individual in a group.
However, the “Andes” experience is a UNIQUE real case, where common people facing terrible circumstances, achieved admirable results.
The “Andes” experience conveys practical and real terms basics of teamwork dynamics and shows its unexpected potential.
At his conferences, you could hear a pin fall during the time it lasts. The only motion perceived in the audience during his talk, is when people lift their hands to dry the tears that arise at with the joyful feeling of being alive.
He is currently offering his conference called "The Triumph of Human Spirit over Adversity. Resilience."

Some of the most relevant conferences given are:

2004-2005-2007-Invited Speaker to M.I.T.(Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
2005-Invited Speaker at Harvard University.
2006-Invited Speaker at Wharton University of Pennsylvania
2006-2008-Invited speaker at Royal College of Surgeons of England.
2006-Invited Speaker for the American Heart Association, Chicago.

E-mail Roberto Canessa M.D.

Copyright © 2009 - Roberto Canessa
Development Mariani & Sanguinetti