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The Michael E. DeBakey Papers

[Diary kept en route to New York and France] pdf (35,319,763 Bytes) transcript of pdf
[Diary kept en route to New York and France]
On his way to Strasbourg to work with Dr. Rene Leriche for a year, DeBakey recorded his activities and impressions as he traveled. These included his dislike for New York City, the company and cuisine on board the ship, his delight on seeing his fiancee, Diana Cooper, when she met his ship at Le Havre, and the high prices in Paris. He also related a humorous story of being brought beer when he inquired about a bath at his Paris hotel. The final entries are about his first days at Leriche's clinic, and include detailed information about Strasbourg and Leriche that DeBakey used several years later in an article titled "The Clinic of Professor Rene Leriche."
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
44 (35,319,763 Bytes)
Date Supplied:
9 August - 11 September 1935
DeBakey, Michael E.
Reproduced with permission of Katrin DeBakey.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
New York
Exhibit Category:
From Tulane School of Medicine to the U.S. Army, 1928-1946
Metadata Record The Clinic of Professor Rene Leriche (April 1938) pdf (338,913 Bytes) ocr (16,211 Bytes)
Box Number:
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Physical Condition:
Series: Personal and Biographical, 1926-2009
SubSeries: International Travel, 1921, 1935-1939, 1945, 1952-1997, 2005
SubSubSeries: Diaries, 1921-1979
Folder: [Trip to New York and France, with Letters and Manuscript], 1935-1936
Diary of Michael E. DeBakey
Aug. 9 I begin this with my departure from Lake Charles, La., for better or for worse depending, of course, upon whose eyes may ungaurdedly [sic] peruse it.
My train journey to Chicago was somewhat lengthy but comfortable and not unpleasant (possibly because I met no one to converse with). I arrived in that village of gangster fame in the evening of Friday Aug. 10th, and registered at the select Blackstone hotel. (as business is bad they are not so select thus accounting for my staying there). After a much-needed bath and a hearty meal, I retired to bed early.
Aug 11. Up early this morning after a refreshing sleep and took myself off to meet Mr. V. Mueller. He proved to be a charming gentleman of the old school but reared in Germany and even now smacking of their "Kultur" and strength of character. He is a successful business man, broadly travelled, full of enthusiasm,
and ripened by experience. He enthralled me for a full hour with a flowing description of his recent experiences while traveling in Germany, the Balkans and India. I demonstrated the plans of my new transfusion instrument which he received with warm enthusiasm. I departed that night for New York and after a most uneventful journey arrived there the following evening, Sunday, 8/12/35. (Uneventful except for one thing. I had cabled Diana from Chicago the night of my arrival and all the next day anxiously awaited a reply which never arrived. However, the following day, Sunday, about noon, en route in the dining car I received the answer. It was a happy communication).
Aug. 13. I stopped at the Montclair hotel which appeared clean and hospitable. This morning I was met by Mr. Oscar Schwidetzky, mgr. of the research dept.
of Becton-Dickinson and Co. and his wife drove us to their plant. There I met Mr. Lawsche, who proceded [sic] to take me on a tour of inspection of their facility. It was most educational and enjoyable and I'm thoroughly convinced that every modern would-be-disciple of Aesculapius should have this advantage He would be in a much better position to appreciate the value of the instruments he must daily use. I also saw the actual manufacture of my own transfusion needles and blushed with pardonable (or is it unpardonable) pride. I had luncheon with Mr. Lawshe and Mr. Becton at their charming country club. In the afternoon I again met Mr. Schwidetzky and he drove me to his home where we had a glass of cognac and later he drove me to the city.
Aug. 14 I went to Brooklyn to see Dr. Haddod who was courteous but not very congenial. He is a general
practioner [sic] of the older type and I dont [sic] think a particularly good one. After paying my respects I gladly departed. After returning to the hotel, I procured a book and read myself to sleep.
Aug. 14. This morning I made the acquaintance of Mr. Jabara who was not only courteous but hospitable as well. I had lunch with him at a Syrian Rest. and enjoyed it immensely. He was personable, interesting and even desired to give me fatherly advice (for which I am always a gracious listener).
On the way to the hotel, I stopped in a small bookshop thinking to purchase Woolcoat's [sic] 'While Rome Burns' and met a most genial Mr. Lorendorf (another German -- are all the nice people Germans?). We immediately struck up an engaging conversation and then went out to dinner. He was for some time in the theatrical business and toured all Europe with the Singer Midgets (he was their business manager). He has a nice collection of books -- mostly his own and I
purchased several including "While Rome Burns" and one of K. Gibran's.
Aug. 15 Up early and saw Frank lica [sic] who was one of my classmates at Tulane. He is practicing here in New York and I surmised, from his attitude, that he would prefer living in the south. I certainly dont [sic] blame him. I can't say that my sojourn in New York has been particularly enjoyable. I simply do not like this immense city with its towering skyscrapers and cold foreboding edifices. I am actually vehement in my dislike and disapproval (although I realize it is immaterial). People here cannot really enjoy life -- that is an art that has escaped them. Life passes them by with not even a "bon jour". However, with all due fairness, I must say that I did meet a few nice people (and so help me, they were nearly all Germans)
I made the final arrangements with the Chase National Bank to transfer my
account to the Paris Branch and in the evening went to the cinema.
Aug. 16 Up early and made arrangements to check out of the Hotel as my boat sails tonight. Met Mr. Lortendorf this afternoon and he and his brother took to witness an excellent baseball game at the Polo Grounds. The St. Louis Cardinals demonstrated their prowess as well as their dizzy pitcher Dean over the N.Y. Giants with the overwhelming score of 1 to 0. We had a Russian dinner that night and he saw me off at the pier as the Champlain departed amidst shrieks of bon voyage, franting [sic] waving, and here and there a parting tear.
This parting scene aroused in me conflicting emotions of sad departure and anticipative joy and I stood at the deck rail until long after every one had retired profoundly contemplating what the future held in store. However, I finally roused myself
from this deep, migatory reverie and proceded [sic] to seek my berth "to repair by nature in comforting repose."
Aug. 17. Saturday I was awakened this morning by the swishing of the briny sea. The invigorating, fresh salt air was stimulating and I began my toilette with a feeling of hey, niney, niney -- The cabin steward brought me a telegram from the folks at home wishing me "bon voyage" and an epistolary expression of the same thing from that excellent secretary, Miss Forshag. (Hers would come like that).
At breakfast I ordered in my best French -- all the while humorously thinking of the advertisements of the man that was laughed at when he first sat down at the piano to play. Nevertheless, I enjoyed a hearty "petit dejeuner" I note that there is a large number of passengers who are obviously French and traveling [sic] in groups. So far I've made no one's acquaintance and have
interested myself in the engrossing reading matter I brought along. The sea has been calm and the weather delightful.
Aug. 18 Sunday Up early and after a hearty breakfast completed reading While Rome Burns. Was indeed sorry to have to lay the book aside. There is one story in the book that is absolutely incredible i.e. 'The Vanishing Lady' and yet it is related in a true-story fashion. There is no doubt about Woolcott's [sic] ability to write.
Had a nap in the afternoon and later engaged in a game called "keno" in which Lady Luck frowned upon me causing my fortune to diminish by 70 cents. After dinner tonight I witnessed a movie entitled "Pursued" in which Chester Morris and Sally Eilers overcame every obstacle in taking a child to its mother in Mexico and ended in an happy embrace. In the evening there was dancing in the barroom but I did not enter into this diversion.
Aug. 19 Monday Upon awakening this morning I noted that there was a decided rocking of the boat. After peering thru the porthole I could see that the sea was choppy and a bit rough. Wondered if seasickness would overtake me. It certainly did not diminish my appetite.
I have been very fortunate in having an entire cabin to myself. It is not that I do not desire company but in obtaining a cabin like this one has no choice of this berthmates so it is better not to have to take a chance. The other berth in my cabin has not been taken and as a result I have it all to myself.
This afternoon we ran into a dense fog and the regular groaning of the foghorn added to the dismal atmosphere. Not many passangers [sic] out today and I understand there are a large number seasick. In my opinion the greater part of seasickness is mental.
Another cinema, "The Girl Friend," was shown tonight. It was good for a third
class movie. After dinner there was a dance but I left that with little remorse for the arms of Morpheus in my lonely berth.
Aug. 20 Tuesday Today we are half way across in the middle of the Altantic [sic]. On deck one looks in all directions and sees nothing but water. It makes one feel infinitesimal -- only nature can do that.
The food has been delicious. My waiter tries his best to engorge me. He does not seem to understand how I can live on what I eat and yet to me it is immense. (Point of view -- I've always maintained)
As a result of the inquiring mind I found myself before the information desk determining the cost of a radiogram. I was told that it was 6 Francs (42 cents) a word and one pays also for the name and address. I made a graceful exit stating that on second thought it would probably be better to deliver my message in person.
It has become somewhat rougher today
and a number of passangers [sic] have found their way hurriedly to the rail. So far I've been a good sailor.
There was another cinema this afternoon but I missed it because I found myself suddenly engaged in conversation with one of the band members. This is not his profession and like the others it is simply a means towards a vacation. They are all americans [sic]. He is an engineer graduating from Temple and now associated with a forging Co. His name is [blank space] and seem to be a very agreeable person.
Aug. 21. Wednesday It is even rougher this morning and the chairs in the living room and lounge have been bolted down The boar dips from side to side and up and down. A number of passangers [sic] are seasick. There is a drizzling rain outside and a heavy, gloomy, foggy atmosphere. I met a Dr. Favre from Boston today. He is en route to
Switzerland to spend a few months with his family. We had the Commandant's dinner without the Commander and I am afraid his gastronomic tastes do not appeal to me. Another Cinema was shown tonight entitled "Page Miss Glory" but like the rest was not very good. It's getting rougher as we progress and now there's no deck strolling but best to "put it to bed."
Aug 22 Thursday Up this morning rather late and breakfasted about 10 o'clock. Learned the boat arrives in Havre about 9:30 tomorrow night and there will be a streamlined train leaving for Paris about an hour later. This was good news as it appeared for a while as though it would be necessary to remain in Havre Friday night. The boys playing in the band are all young Americans that are playing their way over and back again. All have other occupations and this is just a hobby. They seem to be very
nice chaps.
Aug 23. Friday We arrived in Plymouth today at noon and departed an hour later after dropping a few passangers [sic]. The English Channel was unusually calm so I am led to believe. We arrived in Havre at 10 o'clock P.M. and I was amongst the first to set foot on land. Imagine my unbounding joy when the first person I set eyes on was lovely Diana, as prim and neat as ever and beaming with a beautiful smile of welcome. A happy reunion. She had come up from Paris to meet me and I was gratefully appreciative. We had no trouble getting thru the customs as their search and inquiry centered about cigarettes. We then took the special train to Paris at 10:35 The tickets were 250 Francs first class and 130 francs second class so I naturally took the latter. There is not that difference in the riding comfort. I checked in at the hotel Royal Villier at
1 o'clock Saturday morning Aug 24.
I find everything in Paris very expensive. This is in great measure due to the fact that the American dollar is only worth 59 cents and one gets only 15 francs for a dollar. As a result everything seems to cost almost twice the price at home. For instance cigarettes cost 6 1/2 francs or about 40 cents (The popular american [sic] brands). Gasoline or as the french [sic] say -- essence -- costs 3 1/2 francs per liter or about 70 cents per gallon -- of course this is out of all proportion because most of it is imported. Automobiles here are also very expensive -- The ford [sic] which is actually made here costs 28,000 francs or almost $2000.00. The cheap french [sic] cars range around $1000.00 This accounts for the large numbers of bicycles and motorcycles.
The first morning I was in Paris I had a rather humorous experience. I had just awakened and desired a bath. By the way, this seems to be quite a luxury in France. One always pays extra for a bath -- usually about 5 francs. But of course, one pays extra for everything here -- in fact I understand that the government is seriously considering imposing a tax on the very air foreigners breathe while sojourning in France. The bath here seems to be a luxury because the French dont [sic] bathe often. Because of their extreme conservatison [sic] they bathe about once a week -- that is the cleaner ones. It is supposedly both for the health. And now about the funny story. I rang for my bath and the valet came to my room to inquire what I desired. He did not understand a word of english [sic] and it was necessary for me to
speak french [sic]. So summoning up my best Sunday-go-to-meeting french [sic] I desired a bath and said the french [sic] word for bath which is "bain" He seemed to understand but immediately asked me with a gracious smile what color I desired brown or black. Of course, I was somewhat perplexed. He rather had me there. But, I reasoned, I am in a strange country among strange customs and possibly the baths here are more suitable in those colors. I immediately regained my equanimity and responded that I would have the brown as black was not good for my disposition. Imagine my undisguised embarrassment when a few minutes later I opened the door to an inquiring knock to find a waiter there with a tray and a glass of beer. He had understood the word "biere" for my french [sic] rendering of "bain". I was far from complimented on my French prononciation [sic].
My sojourn in Paris was most enjoyable. I visited the Louvre and feasted my eyes on the beautiful old oil paintings, magnificent works of art, tapestries of inestimabl [sic] value, and the invaluable historical treasures of the Egyptian excavations. This visit as well as almost all of my tour of Paris was made with lovely Diana and it is for this reason that it was so enjoyable.
Met Dr. Islen who was with Kanauil[?] for some time and after returning to France wrote a french [sic] texbook [sic] on surgical infections of the hand. Visited some of the french [sic] clinics with him but was not very favorably impressed with their methods.
Met Drs Fuller and Bayon at the American Hospital. Both were very courtious [sic] and kind and explained that most of the men I wished to see were away
on vacation. The American Hospital was impressive. The rooms are large spacious and airy with their own dressing room and supplies as well as bath.
The subways in Paris, referred to as the "Metro" are the best means of travel. There is a first and second class (as with almost everything) but one rarely rides anything but second class and it is possible to go anywhere in Paris for 70 centimes.
Went to a Parisian night club, "The Casanova", a Russian place with Dr. Pecker Anderson, Vera Shemy[?] and Diana We had one Gin fizz a piece and it cost 240 francs. Such extravagance!
On Sept. 1, moved from Hotel Royal Villier to Villa Trianon, a cozy little Pension in Neuilly -- very nice. On Sept. 6 went with Mr. Francis Joseph Gyra Jr. of Newport R.I. to the Hotel Ritz. for dinner -- excellent meal with beautiful surroundings -- very
rich place. Then to the Folies Bergere -- a cheap burlesque.
On Sept. 7 had my birthday dinner with dear Diana. Am 27 yrs. Of age today -- how time passes.
Went to Notre Dame and we paid 2 francs to climb the old circular stairway to the tower -- very fatiguing. Took some pictures at the top.
On Sept. 10 at 12:20 I took to train for Strasbourg. Diana saw me off. I know how I will miss her. The train journey was uneventful and at 7:20 P.M we arrived safely. Checked in at the Hotel Maison Rouge
On Sept. 11 -- Up early, breakfasted, and to the hospital where I met Prof. Leriche who received me kindly. Also met Dr. Alberto Saldarriaga of Columbia South America. He had studied at Cornell and speaks english [sic] very well. He was very kind and directed me to the Pension Elisa. At the Pension met Dr. Cavalli and his
wife. Both are about my age, Italians from Milano -- extremely nice. He is a foreign assistant like myself at the clinic.
A bit about Strasbourg --
In the extreme eastern part of France lying between the rapidly flowing Rhine river and the mountainous Vosges is the land of Alsace. Here is a country as unique, picturesque and characteristic as the people that inhabit it and the beauty of all its civilization is typified by its most important center, Strasbourg. This city, tout an contraire to its turbulent history, tranquilly reposes in a rich valley almost midway between the Vosges on the distant west side and the Black Forest in the east and hugs the Rhine with almost jealous fervor. As a result of this geographical situation, i.e. at the borders of two rival civilizations willingly or not it has always been enriched by the acculturation of one
or the other of these two great nations with which it has been alternately united. And it is this very admixture of the best of the Teutonic and Celtic qualities that gives Alsace and its greater center, Strasbourg, its characteristic and unique beauty.
Apparently predestined to the costly glories as well as the adversities and vicissitudes of military order this city has faithfully and veritably lived up to its traditional origin. It was on this very soil that Drusus fifteen hundred years B.C. established a fortified post in the name of the Roman people with the object of stemming the unceasing hostile raids of the savage and incursive Alains, Vandals, and Sarmades who inhabited the land beyond the Rhine. For five centuries this fortified post which rapidly developed into a city was known as Argentoratum thus typifing [sic] its traditional commercial and industrial activity then for
for reasons more chimerical than authenic [sic] the name was changed to Strasburgens and thus Strasburg; the city of roads where two worlds meet on the banks of the Rhine, where the Roman road descended from the Vosges on the west to cross those which joined Italy to the North of Gaul and upon which, so legend states, journeyed the first Christian missionaries sent by St. Peter himself. And if we continue to read its history we find that from the earliest recorded facts to the recent World War this land has been the arena of many upheavals, violent quarrels and uprisings, bitter rivalry, and grim-visaged war and blood-shed.
At present Strasbourg boasts of a population of almost 200,000 inhabitants consisting of the newly emigrated french [sic] and Germans and the native Alsations who constitute the great majority. Both the french [sic] and the german [sic] or the native "patois", the Alsatian, which must be
distinguished from the true German are spoken with equal facility. Thus in every phase of its civilization, in its art, music, architecture, and its culinary art there is this predominant admixture.
The city has a proud display of many interesting and historic sites and the most notable of all, its symbol and most venerable of all its edifices is the Cathedral of Strasbourg. This impressive structure seemingly proud of its noble age and magnificent architectural splendor solemnly rises to an almost incredible height in apparent haughty disdain of its lowly but quaint vicimage. Although it was first begun by Bishop Werinbar [sic] in 1015 credit for its present architectural design, its noble austerity of construction and Gothic style and its high artistic purity of detail belongs to Erwin who lived in the latter part of the 13th century. The final crowning
of its spire was completed in 1439 by Jean Hultz. The beautiful and artistic stained glass windows which give its interior a characteristic charm by its soft illumination are unique in that they have been preserved almost intact since their installation between the 12th and the 15th centuries. In the interesting history of the Cathedral the famous clock made its first appearance in 1352 but the name of the artist is unknown although legend would have us believe that his eyes were removed so that it would be impossible to duplicate its mechanism. However, the present mechanism was calculated and excuted [sic] by the celebrated Strasbourg clockmaker, Schwilgue from 1838 to 1842. It is a most intricate and ingenious example of mechanical workmanship and contains a perpetual calendar indicating all the feasts and automatically regulating itself for leap year It also indicates the course of the planets the eclipses of the moon and sun, as well
as the days and hours. The quarter hours are successively represented by a child, an adolescent, a man and an old man who pass before death striking upon a bell while Death rings the hours. However, the most interesting spectacle occurs at 12 o'clock midnight and noon. Immediately after Death has rung the 12th hour the procession of the 12 apostles begins. Each apostle is blessed by Christ as they pass before him and this ceremony ends with the cock who claps his wings and crows three times in a most lifelike manner.
There are many other beautiful and historically interesting sites. The stately old imperial German palace remains yet an imposing monument boastfully comemmorating [sic] Germany's previous control of Alsace. This imposing edifice confronting La Place de la Republique (which was formerly the Place Imperial) was constructed for William the first after Germany had regained Alsace in 1870
and represents the great zeal and avidity of the Germans in their desire to embellish this regained land with their Kultur. Bordering the square and immediately opposite the Imperial Palace are two other constructions evincing the feverish activity which the Germans displayed in their endowment of Alsace. The one on the right is the Conservatoire Municipal which was formerly the Palace of the Parliament and is constructed in typical Renaissance Louis XVI style. The other building is the present Bibliothique of the University and is the second largest library in France, containing 1,200,000 volumes and over 3000 manuscripts. The University is probably the most important building which Strasbourg inherited from the German epoch. Constructed between 1879 and 1884 in typical Italian Neo-renaissance style it now houses one of the most advanced centers of French education. Conspicuously before the University stands an arresting moment of Goethe as a student who
came to this university to seek knowledge and a happy life.
The L'Orangerie which in 1806 was converted into a garden and endowed with a building in Empire style was presented to the Empress Josephina who sojourned in Strasbourg during Napoleon's campaigns in Germany. The beautiful gardens, tenderly cared for as though in worshipful memory of that once noble and haughty resident contain a most resplendent array of multifarious flowers significantly and artistically arranged.
Professor Rene Leriche's clinic
In the extreme eastern part of France tranquilly reposing almost midway between the mountainous Vosges and the Black Forest, and hugging the rapidly flowing Rhine with seemingly jealous fervor, is the city of Strasbourg. Apparently predestined to the costly glories as well as the adversities and vicissitudes of military order, this city has veritably lived up to its traditional origin. On this very soil Drusus 1500 years before the Birth of Christ established a fortified post in the name of the Roman people with the object of stemming the unceasing hostile raids of the savage and incursive Alains[?], Vandals, and Sarmades who inhabited the land beyond the Rhine. But, despite the fact that it has been the center of the arena in which grim-visaged war played many
a leading role, it has progressively developed into one of the most active commercial, industrial, artistic, and educational centers of Europe. Because of its unique geographical position, i.e., at the border of two rival civilizations willingly or not, it has always been enriched by the acculturation of one or the other of these two great nations with which it has been alternately united. And it is this Teutonic and Celtic qualities that gives Alsace and its great center, Strasbourg, its characteristic and unique beauty. Far-famed as the originator of Sauerkraut, renowned for its inimitable pate de foie gras, and celebrated for the magnificent beauty and stately Gothic purity of its imposing Cathedral, this great center has indeed a rightful and deserving place among the first cities of the world.
But of all of the proud possessions there is none it could display with
more pardonable pride than its great University, for here, modestly resides one of the world's most advanced centers of education. And no part of this University is more progressive or has a nobler inheritance than the Medical School. Constructed on the same grounds and as an integral part of the "Hospices Civil", consisting of over fifty buildings, covering over 70 acres of ground, possessing its own electric power, water, and heating system, it is indeed a little city within itself, forming one of the world's largest medical centers.
So old is this hospital and so vague are the early records that its origin is lost in antiquity. However it may be said with some degree of authenticity that it was founded about the year 657 A.D. probably but the Duc d'Alsace Attic or Ettichon, the father of Saint Odile, and was administered by the bishops
until the year 1263. At this time the administration of the hospital was given to the city by the Bishop Henri de Geroldsack and fifty years later the hospital was transferred outside the city boundary to its present site. In 1716 it was almost completely destroyed by fire, only the chapel of Saint Evard escaping, which incidentally dates back to the fifteenth century, and remains yet a monumental comemoration [sic] of the admirable courage and unwavering determination of these early workers.
With its reconstruction came a new epock [sic] in the advancement of the medical school which became better organized, more firmly established, and began its rapid strides of progress and development. The chairs of Pathology, anatomy, surgery, etc., were definitely assigned, and here was founded in 1734 the first school of midwifery in the world. From this time until 1870 it continued to rapidly advance and flourish under the ever-productive
influence of the French School. During the German epoch from 1870 to 1918, the great zeal and feverish activity that was displayed in enlarging and enhancing the hospital and university, has resulted in making it one of the largest medical centers of the world today. To attempt a further detailed historical and descriptive discussion of the hospital and university would be inopportune as well as inexpedient. As our interest is admittedly confined we may risk being invidious and limit it to one of the most conspicuously advanced and scientifically progressive departments, namely "Clinique Chirurgicale A". It may be parenthetically stated that the surgical department consists of two divisions: Clinique Chirurgicale A and Clinique Chirurgicale B but we are solely concerned with the former.
The present edifice of Clinique Chirurgicale A was completed in 1881
and contains 205 beds. Constructed in simple style with large spacious hallways and vast airy wards, it possesses two operating pavilions, one of which is provided with a huge ampitheater [sic]; modernly equipped laboratories of surgical pathology and experimental surgery; its own department of radiology; an out-patient clinic; an urologic department; and a separate building devoted to septic cases.
However, our interest in this clinic is aroused, not by its modern facilities or its simple style of construction, but by the man who modestly works and presides as its director. Celebrated thruout [sic] the surgical world for his prolific and fructiferous activities, his unceasing originality of thought, his numerous perspicuous disquisitions and his perennial expositions on the surgery of the sympathetic nervous system, Professor Rene Leriche has made this clinic a cynosure for students from all
corners of the world.
In order to appreciate more fully the quality of his work, it is necessary to know and appreciate the personality of this really great man. And to do this it would not be inappropriate to give a brief biographical resume. Born on Oct. 12, 1879 at Roanne, France, he completed his early medical training at the University of Lyon and immediately became the student of Jaboulay, who was early attracted by the unusual ability of this young intern. However, Jaboulay's untimely and tragic death occurred soon afterwards, and he then became the student and later the collaborator of that master surgeon, Antonin Poncet, until the latter's death in 1913. It was under such careful training and in such a brilliant environment that the firm foundation for his later development and success was laid. At the termination of his
internship in 1906 he presented his thesis, "The Resection of the Stomach for Cancer," which remains yet a classic, and in 1910 he became Professor Agrege. During the late war he devoted his entire time to military surgery and as a result of his self-sacrificing and distinguished services both the French and Belgian Governments bestowed upon him one of their highest honors. After the war he returned to Lyon and remained there until 1924 when he was called to Strasbourg to occupy the chair of Surgery which had recently been left vacant by the untimely death of Sencert and which had previously been held by such illustrious figures as Flamant Cailliot, Begin [sic], Sedillot, Madelung, and Boecht[?].
Since his establishment here, he has continued to add many achievements to his numerous innovations and advances that are so characteristic of his surgical enterprise, veritably conforming to the exordial remarks of his inaugural address
in which he stated -- "Vous ne me connaissez pas. J'avais besoin de prendre contact avec vous autrement qu'en paroles. J'ai prefere que vous me jugiez d'abord aux actes."
No better insight can be obtained to his sterling qualities his innate character and his idealistic attitude than to quote him again from this same eloquent address, "Le professeur de Clinique chirurgicale as une triple tache a rempler. It doit soigner de son mieux les malades qui lui sont confies; it doit apprendre aux etudiants tout ce que peut leur etre utile dans leur vie professionelle future; il doit enfin tacher de faire progresser la chirurgie -- L'avenir me permettra, je l'espere de vous le montrer." And he has indeed; for he has achieved these three idealistic tasks in his own characteristically modest but undeniably successful manner.
The generous personality of Prof. Rene Leriche is clearly revealed by his noble and imposing Beethovenian countenance. The high forhead [sic] the clear-blue kind but penetrating eyes, and the strong determined chin vividly portray and reflect his keen sense of humor, his effervescing vivacity, his beneficient [sic] cordiality, his contagious enthusiasm, and his indomitable resoluteness. The reassuring confidence and the understanding sympathy expressed at the patient's bedside is only commensurate with his unlimited tolerance and his patient consideration towards his students. The spirit of camaraderie amongst his assistants, residents, and internes [sic], the pervading atmosphere of enthusiasm in his clinic, and the worshipful admiration of his patients vividly exemplify the charming personality and the admirable characteristics of this great man.
It is in his clinical lectures that he so impressively demonstrates his incomparable ability as a masterful
teacher. Although capable of beautiful oratorical eloquence, before his students he speaks in a concise and transpicuous manner harmoniously blending scientific simplicity with pleasing rhetoric. With explicit clarity he lucidly correlates, the underlying pathological physiology with the more obvious clinical manifestations, indelibly impressing on the minds of his students these essential and fundamental surgical principles
In his operating theater which is finished in an agreeable ensemble of pale blue, one is strikingly impressed by the sheer simplicity as well as the technical perfection of the delicate operative manipulations of this master surgeon. Although a better demonstration of more dextrous [sic] or less injurious dissection on the living subject would be difficult to conceive he more forcibly stresses the primary essentials of modern surgery ,-- that the
present day surgeon must no longer be content with being a mere technician. He must attempt to correct the consequent manifestations of the patient's disorders by first a thorough study and a comprehensive correlation of the underlying pathological anatomy with physiological functions. And this so aptly illustrates the thorough manner in which each patient in the clinic is carefully studied in a sincere attempt to discover the relative importance of the basic physiologic processes and thus ascertain the best corrective measures
The philosophic dissertations, the experimental contributions and the surgical expositions and monographs of Prof. Leriche are too numerous to list and cover and astonishingly wide range of surgical endeavor. And in all his work there is one outstanding characteristic which so aptly portrays the ideal and trend of modern surgery -- the continuous search for a more ratiocinative comprehension of the physiologic disorders consequent
to the more apparent anatomico-pathologic processes. His earlier publications were chiefly concerned with abdominal surgery and especially that of the stomach. His keen analytical and experimental work have added considerably towards a more rational conception and a better therapeutic attack of peptic ulceration. In collaboration with his former chief, Antonin Poncet, he published a masterful dissertation on surgical tuberculosis. His invaluable contributions on vascular diseases and surgery of the sympathetic nervous system have made his name inseparably linked to this branch of surgical endeavors. As early as 1913 he directed the attention of surgeons thruout [sic] the world to the operative procedure of periarterial sympathectomy as a means of improving the circulation of a limb in the treatment of certain conditions consequent to vascular insufficiency. As the procedure was
found to also relieve pain it was quickly and widely adopted before a more rational understanding of the underlying physiological principles was developed. Naturally the results have been most varied and confusing and Prof. Leriche himself writing in the (Sept. 1928) Annals of Surgery succinctly and veritably expressed its present status. "The surgery of the Sympathetic system meets two kinds of difficulties, those which spring from our physiologic ignorance those which spring from our pathologic ignorance. On one side we do not know the exact significance of the branches we cut, on the other side, we are ignorant as a rule of the cause and exact mechanism of the diseases we wish to cure."
Not long after the late war, his constantly probing scientific interests were directed towards the histo-biological development of the osseous structures which resulted in a newer
conception of ossification. In collaboration with Policard he presented these more advanced ideas in a compendious and illuminating monograph, "La Physiologie de l'os normal et pathologique," which shed considerable light on this difficult problem and opened new sources of possibilities in its therapeutic application.
He has recently become intensively interested in studies of the endocrine glands, particularly the adrenals and the parathyroids, with special reference to their surgical consideration. His studious and perspicacious clinical and experimental investigations have already made him one of the foremost authorities in this newer field of surgical inquiry.
The world wide appreciation of the untiring industry, the unceasing efforts and the ever-productive activities of Prof. Rene Leriche is readily evinced by the numerous and
deserving honors which have been conferred upon him. Respected by this collegues [sic], admired by his associates, worshipped by his patients, he will always remain in the hearts of those who know him best, his surgical devotees as a tolerant teacher and a kind and inspiring master. And when the pages of this chapter of medical history have been completed, his name will conspicuously appear amongst those who have done most toward advancing modern surgical progress.
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