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19 February 2015

Patrick Clarkson (1911 – 1969) surgeon

Clarkson was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, the son of a sheep farmer and meat exporter. He was educated at Christ's College and then emigrated to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He won a scholarship to continue at Guy's Hospital in London.

He was also a notable boxer and squash player. He won the Treasurer's Gold Medal in both medicine and surgery and qualified with the Conjoint Diploma in 1935, becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons the following year and completing his MB, BS London in 1940.

He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1940, and in 1942 was attached to Rooksdown House, Basingstoke for training in plastic surgery under his compatriot Harold Gillies. He was Officer Commanding of a maxillo-facial unit in North Africa and Italy from 1942 to 1945. In 1945 he was appointed to the British Army Staff, Washington for liaison with US Army and Navy Plastic Surgery Units. He was awarded the MBE for his war service.

After the war he was appointed to Guy's as surgeon in charge of accident services, and re-joined Gillies at Rooksdown House which was to become a regional plastic surgery centre in the National Health Service. His most notable contributions were probably in hand surgery and in the treatment of burns. He was a founding member of the Hand Club in 1952. He wrote a major book on the topic.

He performed one 'corrective procedure', changing the sex of the XO/XY mosaic dentist Georgina Somerset, in January 1957, no doubt drawing on the experience of his colleague Harold Gillies who had pioneered surgery on Michael Dillon, and Roberta Cowell, eleven and six years previously.

Illness led to premature retirement, and he died at Guys Hospital at the age of 58.
  • Patrick Clarkson & J. Schorstein. Treatment of Denuded External Table of the Skull. 1945.
  • Patrick Clarkson & Anthony Pelly. The General and Plastic Surgery of the Hand. Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1962.
  • Patrick Clarkson & Peter Gorer. Development in a burnt child of antibodies following skin homografts. nd.
  • Patrick Clarkson. Clinical material concerning burns relevant to nuclear warfare. nd
Plarr's Lives of the Fellows

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