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Biographical entry Mercadier, Maurice Paul (1917 - 2002)

Hon FRCS 1981.

21 February 1917
Pradelle, Aveyron, France
9 April 2002
Gastrointestinal surgeon and General surgeon


Maurice Mercadier was a leading French gastrointestinal surgeon and a former president of l'Académie nationale de médecine. He was born in the small village of Pradelle in the Aveyron region of France on 21 January 1917. His family background was modest and his father died when he was eight years old. Mercadier thought about a career in the French Navy, but his sight was not good enough for him to enter the Naval Academy and he enrolled in the faculty of medicine at Paris University.

In 1939 he was drafted into the Second Army as a medical assistant and was assigned to the Lyon region. After the defeat, he resumed his studies and was appointed to work in Paris hospitals. In 1944, after the Allied landings, he interrupted his internship and, with some friends, joined the French Red Cross and travelled to the Normandy frontline. During the battle of Avranches he was wounded by a mine. Luckily, his injuries were not serious and after he had recovered he was seconded as a medical lieutenant and chief of a surgical team in the United States Seventh Army, and remained with them until August 1945.

Following his demobilisation, he returned to Paris, to the Salpêtrière Hospital. He developed an interest in gastrointestinal surgery. He became an assistant to Jacques Hepp at the Bichat Hospital and was appointed as an assistant surgeon (1950), hospital surgeon (1955), associate professor in the faculty of medicine (1958) and then professor (1970). In 1966 he became head of the department of surgery at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, taking over from Cordier Gaston. Here Mercadier set up a small cardiac surgery unit and developed gastrointestinal and endocrine surgery. He specialised in biliary surgery and surgery of the pancreas and liver. He retired in 1982.

For more than ten years he was co-editor of the World Journal of Surgery and was a member of the editorial board of the American Journal of Surgery.

From 1982 to 1983 he was president of the International Society of Surgery. He was much in demand as a visiting professor, particularly in the United States and established many links with surgeons in South America, including in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. He was a member of dozens of scientific societies around the world.

In 1986 he was elected to the l'Académie nationale de médecine and in 1995 served as president. He was made an Officier de la Légion d'Honneur and was an honorary fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons.

Outside medicine, he enjoyed good food and wine, and relaxing at his country house.

In 1947 he married a doctor, Liliane Junot. They had two sons, Jean-Jacques and Jean-François. Maurice Mercadier died on 9 April 2002. He was 85.

Sarah Gillam

Sources used to compile this entry: [Bulletin de l'Académie nationale de médecine 2003 187 No.6 - accessed 27 May 2015].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England