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Some of the most respected people work in the medical field. Surgeons are among those who get a great deal of respect. This is because surgery is demanding and requires specific skills. However, you don’t have to have earned an M.D. to be part of a surgical team. Surgical technicians help prepare the room, and play a vital role as part of the team. But you don’t often hear about them. You are more likely to hear about surgeons — even though surgeons themselves aren’t particularly famous. Here are 10 famous surgeons from history:
- John Heysham Gibbon: One of the most famous surgeons in history is John Heysham Gibbon. Gibbon was born in 1903 and died in 1973. Gibbon followed in the footsteps of a long line of medical doctors. He was known for the invention of the heart-lung machine, and for being the first to perform open heart surgery. Gibbon served in World War II, as well as being a well-known surgeon.
- Joseph Lister: One of the biggest advancements in the history of surgery was the introduction of sterility to medicine. While many thought that “bad air” was the cause of infection, Joseph Lister observed that other issues may be at work. He introduced the idea of sterilizing surgical instruments with carbolic acid (which is now referred to as phenol), as well as using antiseptics to clean wounds.
- Frederic E. Mohs: One of the biggest breakthroughs in cancer research was that made by Frederic E. Mohs. While a medical student at the University of Wisconsin — Madison, Mohs developed the Mohs Micrographic Surgery (MMS) technique. This technique is used to remove skin cancer lesions. The technique pioneered by this famous surgeon is so effective that the cure rate is close to 100% for some conditions. It is a technique still widely in use today in order to help those with skin cancer.
- Gavril Ilizarov: This surgeon is known for his work with bone growth. Gavril Ilizarov was born in what is now known as Belarus, and grew up in what is now Azerbaijan. He worked in rural hospitals for a good portion of his career. Ilizarov’s specialty was orthopedic surgery, and his research into bone development led him to invent the procedure used to this day to reshape or lengthen the bones in legs or arms.
- Norman Bethune: Surgeon Norman Bethune was born in Canada, and was well known for his contributions to medical science. Bethune served in the Spanish Civil War, as well as in the Second Sino-Japanese War. His main claim to fame, though, is his development of a mobile blood transfusion process. Bethune was a prominent humanitarian who was against war in general (saying it was motivated by profits), and who was an early proponent of universal health care. One of the reasons for this was his annoyance that those whose lives he saved with surgery often became sick due to squalid living conditions and lack of health care.
- Lars Laksell: If you have been the beneficiary of a radiosurgery treatment, then you have Lars Laksell to thank for it. Laksell was a professor of surgery, as well as a neurosurgeon. He looked to some of the pioneering work done by other neurosurgeons, and even received some inspiration from an apparatus developed for animal experimentation. After making some adjustments, Leksell developed a stereotactic apparatus meant for human neurosurgery — the first device of its kind. Other neurosurgeons have learned from Laksell, and he is concerned a pioneer in the field.
- Paul Randall Harrington: One of the most well known orthopedic surgeons out there is Paul Randall Harrington. He was offered a basketball scholarship, and that is what made him decide to go to college. A good thing that he decided to attend school; Harrington invented the Harrington Rod, a device that has helped more than one million people. The Harrington Rod is designed to help straighten the spine and keep it immobilized, helping those with scoliosis. Harrington’s rod was in use from the 1960s all the way until the late 1990s.
- John Hunter: One of the most famous surgeons is John Hunter. Hunter was a Scottish surgeon who lived between 1728 and 1793. Hunter was well known for his contributions to the development of modern surgery. Hunter went to London to be with his brother, and worked with him at an anatomy school. Hunter was known for bringing the scientific method to the practice of surgery. He determined that observation was necessary to understanding what needed to be done for patients, and how to approach surgery from a scientific standpoint. Hunter was also known for his compassion, and often waived fees for his poorer patients.
- Sanjay Gupta: While he hasn’t invented any amazing techniques, Sanjay Gupta is probably the most well known surgeon alive. He is a practicing neurosurgeon, as well as being a medical correspondent for CNN. Indeed, he has won an Emmy and contributed to the Peabody honor for CNN during Hurricane Katrina. Rumors are that he was offered the post of Surgeon General when Barack Obama took office (he asked to have his name withdrawn from consideration). He is the author of bestselling books, as well as a columnist and health advocate.
- John Ronald Brown: A more accurate description of this final surgeon on the list is actually “infamous.” John Ronald Brown was the son of a respected doctor and a gifted child. He served in the Army during World War II and scored well enough on the classification test that the Army sent him to medical school. While he qualified as a general practitioner, Brown didn’t manage to pass his exam to qualify as a surgeon. He passed his written tests, but became too nervous during the oral exams. Brown didn’t let that stop him, though. He soon became the go-to guy for transsexual surgery. Brown performed low cost surgeries in garages and other similar places. Many of his patients were maimed. When his medical license was revoked, Brown went to Mexico to continue his career. As a result of his activities, Brown was finally convicted of second-degree murder when one of his patients died.