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Biographical entry Organ, Claude H (1927 - 2005)

Hon FRCS 1999; MD Omaha 1950; MCh 1952; FACS; FRCSSA; FRACS.

Marshall, Texas, USA
18 June 2005
Berkeley, California, USA
General surgeon


Claude Organ was a distinguished American surgeon and the second African-American President of the American College of Surgeons. He was born in 1927 in Marshall, Texas, and educated at Terrell High School, Denison, and then Xavier University, Louisiana. Denied acceptance to the University of Texas on account of his colour, he studied medicine at the Creighton University School of Medicine, Omaha.

After qualifying in 1952 he served in the US Navy, before returning to Creighton to complete his surgical training, rising to become chairman of his department in 1971. There he became famous for encouraging his trainees to pursue bio-molecular research. He then went on to be professor and chairman of the department of surgery at the University of Oklahoma, leaving in 1988 to establish the University of California Davis-East Bay department of surgery in Oakland, now UCSF East Bay department of surgery. He remained there as chairman until 2003.

He was chairman of the American Board of Surgery and President of the American College of Surgeons, being honoured by the distinguished service award of that Association, in addition to gaining numerous honorary degrees from all over the world, including the honorary Fellowship of our College. The author of more than 250 papers and five books, he was for 15 years the editor of Archives of Surgery. He was a frequent visitor to the UK, and in 1999 was invited to tour the British Isles as the British Journal of Surgery travelling fellow to review our methods of surgical training and the role of women in surgery, as a result of which he presented a detailed and perceptive report to the Association of Surgeons in 2000.

He died on 18 June 2005 in Berkeley, California, and is survived by his wife Elizabeth Lucille Mays, five sons (Brian, Paul, Gregory, David and Claude) and two daughters (Sandra and Rita). The Claude and Elizabeth Organ professorship at Xavier University has been endowed in his memory.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Ann.Roy Coll Surg Eng Suppl 2006:88:35; The Times-Picayune 12 October 2005; The Herald Democrat 30 June 2005; American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress 19 October 2003].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England