Pioneering plastic surgery

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Andrew Bamji at an earlier talk in Winchelsea

The pioneering development of what is now known as plastic surgery was the subject of Dr Andrew Bamji’s talk to members of the Winchelsea Second Wednesday Society on September 12.

Dr Bamji is a retired rheumatologist who is a specialist in the surgical reconstructive techniques developed by Harold Gillies at Queen’s Hospital, Sidcup, during the Great War. His book, Faces from the Front, recently won first prize in the basis of medicine category of the British Medical Association’s 2018 annual book awards.

The book – and Dr Bamji’s talk to the Second Wednesday – examines the British response to the huge number of soldiers who incurred facial injuries during the Great War. He contrasted the success of the centralised, multi-disciplinary approach established by Gillies at Sidcup with those adopted by French and German medical authorities who had to cope with a similar scale of severe injuries.

Dr Bamji, who lives in Rye, spent much of his career at Queen Mary’s, the present name of the hospital where Gillies and his team from the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States performed their ground-breaking surgery. Their work formed the basis of today’s plastic surgery.

Second Wednesday talks take place at the New Hall, Winchelsea, on the afternoon of the second Wednesday of each month (except August). Talks cover a broad range of topics. They include history, art, literature, the natural world and local memoirs, but avoid politics and religion.

Next month’s talk (October 10) is by Philip Laverton, an honorary freeman of Winchelsea, about the life and work of the American writer John Steinbeck.

Image Credits: Winchelsea 2nd Wednesday Society.

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