Renowned surgeon to be honored during Hussain lecture

October 6, 2011 | Events, UToday
By Kim Goodin


Those who attend the third annual S. Amjad Hussain Visiting Lectureship in the History of Medicine and Surgery this month already may be acquainted with the subject of the lecture, Dr. John Howard.

They may have seen glimpses of him in the “Trapper” John McIntyre character from the Emmy-winning television comedy, “M*A*S*H.” According to Hussain, the lecture’s namesake, “It is widely believed that the Trapper John character was fashioned after John Howard.”

The lecture is titled “A Journey from M*A*S*H to the Black Swamp — The Life and Works of John Howard, M.D.: An American Original.” It will take place Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 5 p.m. in Health Education Building Room 100 on Health Science Campus.

Hussain, UT professor emeritus of surgery, will deliver the free, public lecture.

Howard was a renowned surgeon whose ideas revolutionized trauma care in both the combat and civilian sectors. He died earlier this year at age 91.

A member of the faculty and medical staff at the former Medical College of Ohio from 1973 to 1993, he also is noteworthy for his expertise in the treatment of pancreatic disease.

“The purpose of this lecture series is to look at the path medicine has traveled over many centuries and to connect our past with what is happening in our present, to celebrate the work of some pioneer, some researcher, some visionary whose work has become standard practice all over the world,” said Hussain, noted surgeon, educator, author and public speaker. “That’s where Dr. Howard enters the picture.”

Howard, who grew up picking cotton and pecans on his family’s Alabama farm, was a young Army surgeon during the Korean War who conceptualized a better way for treating combat injuries frequently necessitating amputations.

“Dr. Howard conceived the idea that injured blood vessels could be repaired, just like any other organ,” Hussain said. “Instead of tying off injured vessels, his teams started repairing them in the field, which led to saving lives and limbs.”

Howard also began treating kidney failure due to war wounds with dialysis in the field, a medical development being practiced at just a handful of medical facilities in the United States at the time.

Once discharged from the Army, Howard went on to lead a national committee to improve trauma care. The committee established policies still in use; these include mobile intensive care units and ambulance and air transport after traumatic events.

“The current 9-1-1- emergency system is another development that came directly from Dr. Howard’s committee,” Hussain said.

The Hussain Lectureship in the History of Medicine and Surgery was established by UT in 2008 in recognition of Hussain’s deep interest in the subject and his long association with MCO as a volunteer faculty member in the Department of Surgery.

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