The Guinea Pig Club

“Skill is fine, genius is splendid, but the right contacts are more valuable…”

Sir Archibald McIndoe

Recently, a younger surgical colleague commented about the name of McIndoe disssecting scissors. I find stuff like that triggering, hence this blog. Sir Archibald McIndoe was a New Zealand born surgeon, intially graduating from the University of Otago. Like many Australasian surgeons he travelled overseas to work and study further, initially at the Mayo Clinic in the US and later in London. Unable to find a hospital posting, he joined the Harley Steet private plastic surgery practice of his cousin, Sir Harold Gilles. Gilles name is associated with the toothed dissecting forcep that is my favourite instrument. At the outbreak of WW2, McIndoe enlisted and was posted to East Grinstead, where he founded a centre for Plastic and Jaw Surgery. The Battle of Britain saw horrific injuries and burns in young fighter pilots. Their exposed faces and hands were especially vulnerable, in those that were lucky enough to survive. McIndoe pioneered new approaches for devastating face and hand injuries. Most importantly he recognised the value of psychological support and social rehablitation for his patients. Via the so-called Guninea Pig Club, the villagers of East Grinstead were crucial to these men having the confidence to recommence a normal social life. #ittakesavillage #letsmakelemonade

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