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Sir Archibald McIndoe 1900-1960

Sir Archibald McIndoe (1900-1960) was born on the 4th of May, 1900 in Dunedin, New Zealand. He was one of four children of John McIndoe. He studied Medicine at Otago University. After qualifying, he worked locally at Waikato Hospital. 

In 1924, Archibald McIndoe was awarded a Fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in the United States. Lord Moynihan persuaded him to work in England. where He studied Plastic Surgery. He was Plastic Surgeon to St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

He also worked at the Queen Victoria hospital in East Grinstead, here during WW2 he treated patients with severe burns especially the RAF fighter pilots, who suffered atrocious injuries. A club was formed after the war called the Guinea Pig Club which contained McIndoe's Hurricane and Spitfire patients from the Battle of Britain. It was called this because of the new treatments he tried.

The Guinea Pig Club is the name given to the pilots injured in the Battle of Britain who were treated by Sir Archibald McIndoe at the burns unit of Queen Victoria's Hospital in East Grinstead, West Sussex. He was the first person to do plastic surgery on the Spitfire pilots who had been badly burned during the Second World War.

By the end of the war, the total number of Guinea Pigs stood at 649; 57% were British; 27% were Canadian; 8% were New Zealanders; 8% were Australian. Surviving members of the club try to meet each year and since the death of Sir Archibald McIndoe in 1960, the Duke of Edinburgh has been the club's president. We as theatre practitioners know him for his dissecting forceps.

 

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