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Biographical entry Millard, David Ralph Jr. (1919 - 2011)

BA Yale; MD Harvard 1944; FACS 1958; Hon FRCS 1990; Hon FRCS Edin.

4 June 1919
St Louis, Missouri, USA
19 June 2011
Plastic surgeon


David Ralph Millard, chief of the division of plastic surgery at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, was a pioneering plastic surgeon who developed several techniques used in cleft lip and palate surgery. He was born in St Louis, Missouri, on 4 June 1919, the son of David Millard, an attorney, and Florence. He was educated at Asheville School for Boys in Asheville, North Carolina, and went on to Yale University and then Harvard University Medical School, where he entered the accelerated wartime programme, qualifying MD in 1944.

After Harvard and an internship at Boston Children's Hospital, Millard served in the US Navy from 1945 to 1946. He then spent a year as a surgical resident at Vanderbilt University. The renowned UK-based surgeon Sir Harold Gillies, widely regarded as the father of plastic surgery, visited Vanderbilt and Millard asked to become a trainee at Gillies' unit at Rooksdown House in Basingstoke. He remained there from 1948 to 1949. While he was in the UK, he visited all the leading plastic surgeons, including Tommy Kilner, Archibald McIndoe, John Barron and Arthur Rainsford Mowlem, and saw Victor Veau in Paris.

On his return to the United States, Millard joined the plastic surgery department at Barnes Hospital, St Louis, and then six months later moved to Detroit, to a fellowship position with Claire Straith, from whom he learnt more about rhinoplasty. He subsequently spent a final year as a resident in the plastic surgery department at Baylor University, Texas.

In 1952 Millard returned to the UK to work with Gillies. Together they wrote The principles and art of plastic surgery (London, Butterworth & Co Publishers Ltd, 1957), which has become a classic text.

In 1954 Millard was called up for military service for a second time and served a year in Korea. During his time there, he developed a new cleft lip operation, now known as the Millard repair, which created a 'Z' shaped scar and a softer, more natural-looking lip. He presented a paper on his new operation at the First International Congress of Plastic Surgery at Stockholm in 1955.

Returning once again to the United States, he briefly practised in Beverley Hills before moving to Miami, Florida. He also made regular trips to the Bahamas and Jamaica to operate. Between 1956 and 1966 he published a number of classic papers on cleft lip repair, rhinoplasty and face lifts. He was also a pioneer in breast reconstruction. In 1967 he took over the residency programme at the University of Miami and stayed there as chief of the division for the next 25 years, training several generations of residents and fellows.

He was president of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons in 1985. In 1996 the Association named him clinician of the year. In 2000 Millard was named one of 10 Plastic Surgeons of the Millennium by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. He was an honorary fellow of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of England and of Edinburgh.

He was married to Barbara (née Smith). They had three children - Duke, Meleney and Bond - and six grandchildren. Predeceased by his wife, Millard died on 19 June 2011 at the age of 92.

Sarah Gillam

Sources used to compile this entry: [American Association of Plastic Surgeons Memoirs D Ralph Millard, Jr, MD, FACS 1919-2011 - accessed 10 March 2016; D Ralph Millard, MD University of Miami Miller School of Medicine Louis Calder Memorial Library Biography and Personal Archive - accessed 10 March 2016].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England