Friday, August 13, 2010

August 10: Hugh Morriston Davies (1879-1965)

I wrote this post last weekend, planning to put it up on Tuesday the 10th. Obviously other matters became more urgent. So I'm going to put this up now. --Ed.

You know the plotline if you've seen any medical dramas on TV: A gifted surgeon is in an accident, or maybe the victim of a crime, or perhaps falls very ill. He (it's usually a "he") survives, but....gasp! his hand! Injured beyond repair. He can never do surgery again. Might as well forget medicine as a career.

Or not.

Welshman Hugh Morriston Davies (1879-1965) lived this drama, but with a very different outcome. He was, certainly, a gifted and pioneering thoracic surgeon in London in the 1910s. By age 27 he was a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. He was the first surgeon to detect lung cancer by x-ray. He "performed the first anatomical dissection lobectomy for a tumor of the lung in 1912... decades ahead of his time," according to medical historian AP Naef. But in 1916, during an operation, his right hand was cut by a stray sliver of glass. It became seriously infected, and amputation was urged (but not undertaken). He lost all effective use of his right hand.

For a time, he ran a sanatorium in Wales, and worked on a book about thoracic surgery, and wrote journal articles. But in 1921 he returned to surgery, using his left hand. His sanatorium became a destination for thoracic surgical training, and Morriston Davies a respected expert on tuberculosis. During the second world war he ran a "chest unit," treating the military and civilian chest injuries. Even after his retirement at 80, he sought adaptive innovation: he set up a series of pullies to allow him to garden when his legs wouldn't carry him.

His obituary from the British Medical Journal is long and informative.

1 comment:

Carey - Online Education Programs said...

Where else can I found information about Morriston. I tried the internet but wasn't able to find much. You can e-mail me over directly if you can.