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Biographical entry Jenkins, Herbert Stanley (1875 - 1913)

MRCS Aug 2nd 1898; FRCS June 11th 1903; LRCP Lond 1898; MB Lond 1901; MD 1903.

Born
1875
Died
6 April 1913
Occupation
General surgeon

Details

The son of F A Jenkins, great-nephew of Dr Robert Fletcher, of the Surgeon General's Library, Washington. He studied at the Bristol Medical School and Hospital, where he gained several prizes, scholarships, and a Gold Medal, acting later as Assistant House Surgeon, House Physician, and Casualty Officer at the Bristol General Hospital. He was also House Surgeon at the Children's Hospital. In 1900-1901 he was House Surgeon at St Mark's Hospital, London, then Registrar, Pathologist, and Resident Medical Officer at Mount Vernon Hospital for Tuberculosis, Northwood.

A leader in the Students' Christian Movement, he felt called to the Medical Missionary Field, went out to China under the Baptist Missionary Society, and took charge in 1904 of the medical work at Sian Fu, in Shensi, North China. The Chinese language presented no difficulty to him. China was just then settling down after the Boxer Rising; the natives were more ready to recognize that the foreign missionaries only desired to help them. His knowledge of their language made friends of his patients, and they consulted him on other than medical matters. There is nothing that pleases a Chinese as much as finding someone who is willing to listen to his story, and Jenkins was a patient listener. There was no railway and Sian Fu was a month's journey inland; there were the same diseases as at home and a few others, but all in a more advanced state - wounds full of maggots; malignant disease long past the operable stage; a dislocated shoulder of six months' standing covered by a plaster; needles previously inserted to let out evil spirits; common drugs in very crude form. The native doctors usually prescribed the infusion of a herb in a pint of water, so that concentrated drugs in the form of tablets were viewed with suspicion. Until he can train assistants the missionary doctor has to be surgeon, house surgeon, nurse, and manservant, and dispense his own medicines. Until trained in antiseptic methods, Chinese assistants could not assist at operations; the Chinese are averse to major operations, particularly to amputations, and permission to open the abdomen was a novelty till the Chinese learnt that lives could be saved thereby.

During his first furlough Jenkins was engaged in collecting appliances for his hospital, especially an X-ray installation, which was well on its way out when he became ill. He had other improvements in mind, particularly the building of a new hospital. On his return at the end of 1912 he took up work in conjunction with Cecil Frederick Robertson, FRCS; but in Sian Fu, which had been exhausted by famine, fire, and snow, typhus was prevalent, and Robertson caught it in the out-patient department. Jenkins took his share in nursing his colleague, and after twenty-one days himself sickened. He did not give up, but saw sixty out-patients with a temperature of 103° F, and went to bed with his Chinese attendant sleeping in his room. Mrs Jenkins had been with her children to the coast, but was able to reach her husband and nurse him for the last few days. Although after a fortnight the fever left him, he died at the end of a three weeks' illness on April 6th, 1913. He was buried in the Baptist Missionary Churchyard by his fellow-missionaries, many of his Chinese patients following to his grave. He married the daughter of Mr and Mrs Thomas Liveridge, of Llandaff, and she was left with two young children.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England