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Biographical entry Harrison, Stewart Hamilton (1912 - 2011)

LDS RCS Edin 1934; LRCP LRCS Edin LRFPS Glasg 1935; FRCS Edin 1938; FRCS 1969.

15 July 1912
12 May 2011
Hand surgeon and Plastic surgeon


Stewart Harrison was a leading consultant plastic surgeon and a former president of the British Society for Surgery of the Hand. He was born in Highgate, London, on 15 July 1912, the second son of Archibald Harrison, a manufacturer, and Marion Harrison née Taylor. Both his parents died when he was a young child and he was brought up by his maternal grandparents in Dunblane, Scotland. He was educated at Stanley House School, Bridge of Allan, and then studied medicine and dentistry at Edinburgh University. He was a house surgeon at Ancoats Hospital, Manchester.

During the Second World War he spent five years as a major in the Royal Army Medical Corps, in Nigeria and in north-west Europe. Following his demobilisation, he joined the Birmingham Accident Hospital and started his career in plastic surgery. He trained with Sir Harold Gillies and Rainsford Mowlem at Mount Vernon Hospital, and spent much of his career at Wexham Park Hospital in Berkshire, where he developed the plastic surgery unit there.

Throughout his career he pioneered several new surgical techniques. In 1949 he and Gillies carried out an innovative operation to reconstruct the face of a patient born with a recessed upper jaw, which involved moving the middle third of the face forward. Later, he developed an operation to help children born with upper limb deformities, particularly as a result of their mothers using Thalidomide. He transferred the index finger to the normal position of the thumb, enabling the patient to pinch and hold, meaning the child could write and feed themselves. He also improved treatments for people with rheumatoid arthritis, finding ways of stabilising joints, and for people with tendon injuries to the finger.

In 1979 he was a Hunterian professor at the Royal College of Surgeons. He was a founder member of the Hand Club, which became the British Society for Surgery of the Hand in 1968. He was president of the Society in 1972 and of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons in 1976. After he had retired from the NHS, he became the first president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.

In 1943 he married Phyllis Eustace and they had a son. Stewart Harrison died on 12 May 2011, aged 98.

Sarah Gillam

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Telegraph 8 July 2011 - accessed 24 February 2015].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England