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Biographical entry Pozzi, Samuel Jean (1846 - 1918)

Hon FRCS July 25th 1900; MD Paris 1873; Agrégé à la Faculté de Médecine 1875.

3 October 1846
Bergerac, Dordogne, France
13 June 1918
General surgeon


Born at Bergerac, Dordogne, on Oct 3rd, 1846, the son of a pastor of Italian origin who had twelve children. He was educated at the lycées of Pau and Bordeaux, and in 1869 studied in Paris, becoming a favourite pupil of Broca. He graduated MD in 1873, and obtained the position of Agrégé in 1877. In 1876 he visited Lister in Edinburgh, returned a convinced Listerian, and, with Lucas Championnière, introduced Listerism into France. In 1883 he was appointed Surgeon to the Hôpital de Loureine, afterwards the Hôpital Broca. Directing his attention to gynaecology, he was appointed in 1901 to the Professorship of Gynaecology founded by the City of Paris. In the meantime he acted as Secretary-General of the French Congress of Surgery from 1885-1894; in 1895 he was elected to the Académie de Médecine, and in 1898 was elected Senator for his native Department, and retained the position for the ensuing nine years. On July 25th, 1900, he received the honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, where his striking presence was noticeable among the leaders of Continental surgery.

He was for many years President of the Surgical Society of Paris, and, in addition to his position as a general surgeon, was the leader of French gynaecologists, President of the Marseilles Congress of Gynaecology in 1898, Vice-President of the International Congress of Gynaecology in Paris in 1900, the representative of the French Government on visits to Germany, Italy, England, Austria, and the United States. In 1909 he returned from the United States and described the work and entourage of the Mayo Brothers, as well as the transplantation of organs of tissues by Carrel at the Rockefeller Institute.

He was a keen student of the history of medicine, and added one more guess at the cause of the death of Princess Henrietta, celebrated by Bossuet in an "Oraison Funèbre". Pozzi's theory was that she died of a ruptured extrauterine pregnancy in the first or second month, but there is no precise description either of the acute abdominal attack or of what was seen at the post-mortem examination.

At the age of 72 Pozzi was murdered by a lunatic on June 13th, 1918, in his consulting-room, the murderer firing four revolver shots into his abdomen at close quarters. Pozzi had operated on this man two years before, and the madman's complaint was that he would not operate upon him again. Pozzi behaved with calmness and great presence of mind; he instructed his removal to the Astoria Hospital, where he ordered spinal anaesthesia that he might follow the laparotomy performed for twelve perforations of the intestine and a wound in the kidney. He died a few hours later.
His portrait is in the Honorary Fellows' Album; one accompanies his biography in the Lancet; one forms the frontispiece of the Livre d'Or, offert au Professeur Pozzi, 1906. There is a coloured caricature among those of French physicians and surgeons in Paris early in the twentieth century.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Notice sur les Travaux scientifiques du Dr S Pozzi, Supplement, 4to, plates, Paris, 1912 and 1917, included a full biography from 1868-1917, a list of honours, and many biographical details. Lancet, 1918, i, 887, with portrait, 937. Paris méd, 1918, xxviii, Supplement, 273. Bull Acad de Med, 1918, lxxix, 3rd ser, 448].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England