Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Hardy, James Daniel (1918 - 2003)

Hon FRCS 1983; MD Pennsylvania 1941.

14 May 1918
Birmingham, Alabama, USA
19 February 2003
Madison, Mississippi, USA
Thoracic surgeon


James Daniel Hardy was an organ transplant pioneer and the first chairman of the department of surgery and surgeon in chief at the University Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi. Board certified by both the American Board of Surgery and the Board of Thoracic Surgery and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, Hardy worked to improve medical and surgical care in Mississippi throughout his career of teaching, caring for patients and clinical research. Over 200 surgeons trained with him during his tenure as chairman of the department of surgery from 1955 to 1987.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, on 14 May 1918, the elder of twin boys, he was the son of Fred Henry Hardy, owner of a lime plant, and Julia Poyner Hardy, a schoolteacher. His early childhood was tough and frugal, thanks to the Depression. He was educated at Montevallo High School, where he played football for the school, and learned to play the trombone.

He completed his premedical studies at the University of Alabama, where he excelled in German, and went on to the University of Pennsylvania to study medicine, and during his physiology course carried out a research project (on himself) to show that olive oil introduced into the duodenum would inhibit the production of gastric acid - an exercise which gave him a lifelong interest in research. At the same time he joined the Officers Training Corps. In his last year he published research into the effect of sulphonamide on wound healing. After receiving his MD he entered postgraduate training for a year as an intern and a resident in internal medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and also conducted research on circulatory physiology. Research became a vital part of his professional life.

His military service in the second world war was with the 81st Field Hospital. In the New Year of 1945 he found himself in London, before crossing to France and the last months of the invasion of Germany. After VE Day his unit was sent out to the Far East, but when news arrived of the Japanese surrender his ship made a U-turn and they landed back in the United States.

He returned to Philadelphia to complete his surgical residency under Isidor Ravdin. He was a senior Damon Runyon fellow in clinical research and was awarded a masters of medical science in physiological chemistry by the University of Pennsylvania in 1951 for his research on heavy water and the measurement of body fluids. That same year Hardy became an assistant professor of surgery and director of surgical research at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine at Memphis, later he was to become an associate professor, and continued in this position until 1955, when he became the first professor of surgery and chairman of the department of surgery at the newly established University of Mississippi Medical Center, School of Medicine, Jackson.

As a surgeon charged with establishing an academic training programme, Hardy became known as a charismatic teacher and indefatigable physician. He also actively pursued and encouraged clinical research in the newly established department of surgery. His group’s years of research in the laboratory led to the first kidney autotransplant in man for high ureteral injury, and to advances in the then emerging field of human organ transplantation. The first lung transplant in man was performed at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1963 and in 1964 Hardy and his team carried out the first heart transplantation using a chimpanzee as a donor.

Hardy authored, co-authored or edited more than 23 medical books, including two which became standard surgery texts, and published more than 500 articles and chapters in medical publications. He served on numerous editorial boards and as editor-in-chief of The World Journal of Surgery. He also produced a volume of autobiographical memoirs, The Academic surgeon (Mobile, Alabama, Magnolia Mansions Press, c.2002), which is a most readable and vivid account of the American residency system and its emphasis on research, which has been such a model for the rest of the world.

Over the course of his career he served as president of the American College of Surgeons, the American Surgical Association, the International Surgical Society and the Society of University Surgeons and was a founding member of the International Surgical Group and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary tract. He was an honorary fellow of the College, of the l’Académie Nationale de Médicine and l’Association Français de Chirurgie. The proceedings of the 1983 surgical forum of the American College of Surgeons was dedicated to Hardy, citing him as “…an outstanding educator, investigator, clinical surgeon and international leader.” In 1987 Hardy retired from the department of surgery and served in the Veteran’s Administration Hospital system as a distinguished VA physician from 1987 to 1990.

He married Louise (Weezie) Scott Sams in 1949. They had four daughters: Louise, Julia Ann, Bettie and Katherine. He died on 19 February 2003. An annual James D Hardy lectureship has been established in his honour at the department of surgery, University Medical Center, Jackson.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England