Surgery in History

Historical Events

  • 1686-11-18 Charles Francois Felix operates on King Louis XIV of France's anal fistula after practising the surgery on several peasants.
  • 1809-12-25 Physician Ephraim McDowell performs the first abdominal surgery in the U.S, an ovariotomy to remove a 22 lb ovarian tumor
  • 1840-02-01 Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, 1st in US, incorporated
  • 1865-08-12 Joseph Lister performs 1st antiseptic surgery
  • 1867-03-16 First publication of an article by Joseph Lister outlining the discovery of antiseptic surgery, in "The Lancet"

Sports History

1925-04-17 NY Yankee Babe Ruth has ulcer surgery

  • 1925-05-26 Babe Ruth is finally out of bed, 5 weeks after ulcer surgery
  • 1935-11-12 Egas Moniz performs the first modern brain surgery on the frontal lobes to treat mental disorders, at Santa Marta Hospital in Lisbon, Portugal
  • 1944-11-29 The first surgery (on a human) to correct blue baby syndrome is performed by Alfred Blalock and Vivien Thomas

Historic Event

1951-05-15 First vaginoplasty procedure (sex reassignment surgery) in the UK performed on Roberta Cowell by Harold Gillies

US Women's Golf Open

1954-07-03 US Open Women's Golf, Salem CC: Babe Didrikson-Zaharias wins by a record 12 strokes from Betty Hicks in her comeback event 14 months after radical colon cancer surgery

Music History

1975-10-13 Rock vocalist Neil Young undergoes throat surgery

  • 1983-03-03 Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw is admitted to hospital for surgery to repair his throwing arm under the alias 'Tom Brady'
  • 1983-08-15 Ramones guitarist Joey Ramone beaten in fight, and undergoes brain surgery

Historic Event

1988-10-22 US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor survives breast cancer surgery

Sports History

1990-04-27 Dodger Orel Hershiser undergoes career-threatening shoulder surgery

Film & TV History

1992-01-27 Jane Fonda undergoes arthroscopic surgery on her right knee

  • 1992-04-29 Country singer Doug Stone, 35, undergoes quadruple bypass surgery
  • 1992-07-14 Actress Nell Carter undergoes brain surgery
  • 1992-09-01 Tommy Smothers undergoes arthroscopic surgery

Sports History

1993-03-05 Boston Celtic Larry Bird undergoes backfusion surgery

Music History

1993-12-07 American singer Robert Goulet undergoes prostate cancer surgery

Historic Event

1994-06-01 US General Norman Schwarzkopf released from hospital after prostate surgery

  • 1994-09-12 American country singer-songwriter George Jones undergoes successful triple bypass surgery
  • 1994-09-13 George Burns undergoes surgery to drain fluid from his brain

Historic Event

1995-11-16 Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother undergoes hip surgery

Historic Event

1997-03-14 President Clinton trips & injures his knee requiring surgery

Sports History

1998-02-10 Olympic figure skater Peggy Fleming undergoes breast cancer surgery

Historic Event

2014-09-09 Ali Hosseini Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, undergoes prostate surgery

  • 2015-08-14 Most extensive face transplant surgery ever performed on Patrick Hardison by Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez at New York University Langone Medical Center
  • 2016-06-16 British MP (L) Jo Cox is shot and killed outside her constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire
  • 2019-05-02 Drone delivers a kidney for transplant surgery in Baltimore, Maryland, for the first time

Historic Event

2021-07-04 Pope Francis undergoes surgery to remove part of his colon in Rome


Famous Birthdays

  • 1560-06-25 Wilhelm Fabry, German surgeon (Father of German surgery), born in Hilden, Germany (d. 1634)
  • 1771-11-11 Ephraim McDowell, American physician and surgeon (pioneered abdominal surgery), born in Rockbridge, Virginia (d. 1830)
  • 1810-11-09 Bernhard von Langenbeck, German surgeon and founder of Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery, born in Padingb├╝ttel, Germany (d. 1887)
  • 1815-11-01 Crawford Williamson Long, American surgeon and pioneer (use of ether as an anesthetic in surgery), born in Danielsville, Georgia (d. 1878)
  • 1827-04-05 Joseph Lister, British surgeon (pioneer of antiseptic surgery), born in Upton House, West Ham, England (d. 1912)
  • 1872-11-03 Wilfred Trotter, English surgeon who was a pioneer in neurosurgery, popularized the concept of herd instinct, and was an authority in cancers of the head and neck, born in Coleford, Gloucestershire, England (d. 1939)

Lili ElbeLili Elbe (1882-1931)

1882-12-28 Danish transgender woman, former painter, and 1st identifiable recipient of sex reassignment surgery (autobiography: Man into Woman), born in Vejle, Denmark

  • 1914-04-19 Andrew Wilkinson, British pediatrician and the first Professor of Paediatric Surgery in the UK, born in Taunton, England (d. 1995)
  • 1915-07-01 Joseph Ransohoff, American neurosurgeon and pioneer in the modern neurosurgery, born in Cincinnati, Ohio (d. 2001)
  • 1935-04-25 April Ashley, English model and one of the earliest British people known to have had sex reassignment surgery, born in Liverpool
  • 1942-11-04 Patricia Bath, American ophthalmologist (invented laser cataract surgery), born in New York City (d. 2019)
  • 1944-11-02 Keith Emerson, English rock keyboardist, composer, and arranger (Emerson, Lake & Palmer - "Karn Evil 9"), born in Todmorden, West Yorkshire (d. 2016)

Famous Deaths

  • 1634-02-15 Wilhelm Fabry, German surgeon (Father of German surgery), dies at 73
  • 1830-06-25 Ephraim McDowell, American physician and surgeon (pioneered abdominal surgery), dies at 58
  • 1878-06-16 Crawford Williamson Long, American surgeon and pioneer (use of ether as an anesthetic in surgery), dies at 62
  • 1887-09-29 Bernhard von Langenbeck, German surgeon and founder of Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery, dies at 76
  • 1912-02-10 Joseph Lister, British surgeon (pioneer of antiseptic surgery), dies at 84

Lili ElbeLili Elbe (1882-1931)

1931-09-13 Danish transgender woman, former painter, and 1st identifiable recipient of sex reassignment surgery (autobiography: Man into Woman), dies from complications involving a uterus transplant at 48

  • 1932-03-03 Alfieri Maserati, Italian auto racer and engineer (established Maserati Racing), dies from poorly executed kidney surgery at 44
  • 1933-05-15 Ernest Torrence, Scottish actor (I Cover the Waterfront, Hunchback of Notre Dame), dies from complications following surgery for gall stones at 54
  • 1934-03-21 Lilyan Tashman, American actress (Millie, Bulldog Drummond), dies following cancer surgery at 34
  • 1936-08-17 Pierre-Octave Ferroud, French composer (Surgery & Foules), dies at 36
  • 1939-11-25 Wilfred Trotter, English surgeon who was a pioneer in neurosurgery, popularized the concept of herd instinct, and was an authority in cancers of the head and neck, dies at 67
  • 1949-03-07 Bradbury Robinson Jr., American football pioneer who threw first legal forward pass in the history of American football in 1906, dies from complications following routine surgery at 65
  • 1960-07-15 Lawrence Tibbett, American baritone (Metropolitan Opera, 1923-50), dies after surgery at 63
  • 1961-07-23 Esther Dale, American actress (Curly Top; The Egg and I; Ma and Pa Kettle films), dies after surgery at 75
  • 1966-01-14 Sergei Korolev, Soviet Russian rocket engineer & spacecraft designer (Sputnik; Voskhod), dies during surgery at 59
  • 1967-01-10 Emerson Treacy, American actor (California Straight Ahead, Prowler), dies after surgery at 66
  • 1968-08-19 Sara Jane Roberts, child actress (Our Gang), dies after surgery at 44
  • 1969-04-03 Rex Evans, British actor (Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman; Zara; Matchmaker), dies after surgery at 65
  • 1969-12-07 Hugh Williams, British dramatist, actor and writer (Wuthering Heights, Bank Holiday), dies after surgery at 65
  • 1972-05-31 Walter Freeman, American physician (developer and practitioner of psychiatric surgery transorbital lobotomy), dies
  • 1976-01-10 Howlin' Wolf [Chester Arthur Burnett], American blues musician (Smokestack Lightnin', Killing Floor), dies of complications during kidney surgery at 65
  • 1982-12-08 Marty Robbins, American country singer (Devil Woman, I Walk Alone), dies of complications following cardiac surgery.at 57
  • 1983-12-08 Slim Pickens [Louis Burton Lindley Jr], American rodeo performer and actor (Dr Strangelove, Blazing Saddles), dies following surgery at 64
  • 1985-05-02 Hal LeRoy [John LeRoy Schotte], American vaudeville, Broadway and film dancer (Ziegfeld's Follies of 1931), dies at 71 after surgery
  • 1986-04-23 Jim Laker, English cricket spin bowler (46 Tests; 193 wickets; world best 19-90 4th Test v Australia 1956), dies from complications of gall bladder surgery at 64
  • 1988-01-01 Marcel Hillaire, German actor (Take the Money and Run, Seven Thieves), dies from surgery complications at 79
  • 1989-03-14 Edward Abbey American environmental author (The Monkey Wrench Gang), dies after surgery at 62
  • 1989-11-29 Sir G O "Gubby" Allen, English cricket all-rounder (25 Tests; refused to bowl 'Bodyline' tactics 1932), dies of complications after stomach surgery at 87
  • 1991-06-09 Claudio Arrau, Chilean pianist (Boston Symphony Orchestra), dies following surgery at 88
  • 1993-06-05 Conway Twitty [Harold Jenkins], American country and rockabilly singer-songwriter ("Linda On My Mind"; "Honky Tonk Heroes"), dies in surgery at 59
  • 1995-08-18 Andrew Wilkinson, British pediatrician and the first Professor of Paediatric Surgery in the UK, dies at 81
  • 1995-10-22 Mary Wickes [Wickenhauser], American character actress (Father Dowling Mysteries; Sister Act; Dennis The Menace), dies of surgery complications at 79
  • 1995-11-13 Sir Robert Stephens, British actor (Uncle Kurt-Holocaust, Chaplin, QB VII, Cleopatra), dies from complications of surgery at 64
  • 2000-04-10 Larry Linville, American actor (M*A*S*H, 1972-77 - "Major Frank Burns"), dies of pneumonia, following cancer surgery in at 60
  • 2001-01-30 Joseph Ransohoff, American neurosurgeon and pioneer in the modern neurosurgery, dies at 85
  • 2001-12-21 Dick Schaap, American Emmy Award-winning sportscaster, journalist, and author (Bo Knows Bo: Instant Replay), dies from complications during hip replacement surgery at 67
  • 2002-05-12 Erich Kulas, ECW Wrestler (Mass Transit), dies after surgery at 22
  • 2004-11-13 Thomas Foglietta, American politician and diplomat (US Representative for Pennsylvania, 1981-97; Ambassador to Italy, 1997-2001), dies from surgery complications at 75
  • 2006-01-16 Stanley Biber, American physician, pioneer of transgender surgery, (b. 1923)
  • 2007-03-02 Clem Labine, American baseball pitcher (MLB All-Star 1956, 57; World Series 1955, 59, 60; Brooklyn / LA Dodgers, Detroit Tigers), dies after exploratory brain surgery at 80
  • 2008-08-05 Robert Hazard [Rimato], American singer-songwriter ("Escalator Of Life"; "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"), dies after surgery at 59
  • 2009-05-04 Jane Randolph, American actress (Cat People, Railroaded!), dies of complications after hip surgery at 93
  • 2009-06-03 Koko Taylor [Cora Walton], American blues singer known as the "Queen of the Blues", dies of complications from surgery for gastrointestinal bleeding at 80
  • 2010-09-22 Eddie Fisher, American pop singer ("Oh My Papa": I'm Walking Behind You"), dies from complications from hip surgery at 82
  • 2010-11-15 Larry Evans, American chess grandmaster, author and journalist (5 x US Chess C'ship; 20+ books), dies following gallbladder surgery at 78
  • 2012-05-29 (Arthel) "Doc" Watson, American Grammy Award-winning bluegrass, folk, and blues guitarist, songwriter, and singer, dies from complications following surgery at 89
  • 2013-03-06 Alvin Lee, English rocker, dies from complications from surgery at 68
  • 2013-06-18 Gene Freese, American MLB player, dies from complications of back surgery at 79
  • 2013-11-13 Todd Christensen, NFL player (Oakland) and sportscaster, dies from complications during liver transplant surgery at 57
  • 2013-11-26 Tony Musante, American actor (David Toma-Toma, Nowhere to Hide), dies from complications following surgery at 77
  • 2013-12-31 James Avery, American actor, dies from complications from surgery at 68
  • 2014-01-05 Jerry Coleman, American MLB 2nd baseman, dies from complications from brain bleeding and surgery at 89
  • 2014-05-03 Gary Becker, American economist (Nobel 1992) and recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom 2007, dies from complications following surgery at 83
  • 2014-07-17 Henry Hartsfield Jr, American USAF Colonel, and NASA astronaut (STS-4; STS-41-D; STS-61-A), dies of complications from back surgery at 80
  • 2014-11-26 Frankie Fraser, English gangster who spent 42 years in jail, dies of complications related to surgery at 90
  • 2017-05-03 Lukas Ammann, Swiss actor (Graf Yoster; Day of Anger; Class Reunion; Palace Hotel), dies of complications from surgery at 104
  • 2018-01-08 Denise LaSalle [Ora Denise Allen], American blues and R&B singer recognized as the "Queen of the Blues" ("Trapped by a Thing Called Love"), dies from complications from surgery at 83
  • 2018-03-12 Nole "Nokie" Edwards, American surf-rock guitarist (The Ventures) and actor (Deadwood), dies of complications following a surgery at 82
  • 2018-04-03 David Edgerton, American entrepreneur and founder of Burger King, dies of complications of surgery at 90
  • 2018-05-25 Bill Mallory, College Football coach (Miami, Colorado, Northern Illinois, Indiana), dies after brain surgery from a fall at 82
  • 2019-01-19 Ted McKenna, Scottish drummer (The Sensational Alex Harvey Band; Rory Gallagher), dies from surgery complication at 68
  • 2020-02-13 Jimmy Thunder, New Zealand boxer (IBO heavyweight title 1994-95), dies following brain surgery at 54