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Biographical entry Santy, Paul (1887 - 1970)

Croix-de-Guerre, Hon FRCS 1955; MD Lyon 1910.

16 April 1887
Lyon, France
20 January 1970
General surgeon and Thoracic surgeon


Paul Santy, Professor of Clinical Surgery 1941-58 in the University of Lyon, Surgeon to the Edward Herriot Hospital 1933-58, and Director of the Lyon Anti-Cancer Centre, was a superb technical surgeon and an adventurous experimentalist of indefatigable curiosity, ever seeking advances for surgery through scientific research in the Hunterian tradition. At the biennial congresses of the International Society of Surgery from 1920 onwards his lectures drew a maximum audience; he was elected an Honorary Member of the Society in 1961.

Sir Stanford Cade made the citation in his honour when he was formally admitted to Honorary Fellowship of the College on 14 July, the French national festival day, 1970, following his election by Council in the previous January.

Santy was born on 16 April 1887, graduated at Lyon, where he was a pupil of Xavier Delore, in 1918, and was prosector of anatomy under Antoine Poncet at the Hôtel-Dieu in 1912. He was on active service as a battalion medical officer with the French Army from the beginning of the German invasion in August 1914, till he was called to the teaching centre for war surgery at Bouleuse under Claude Regaud and Rene Leriche; he won the Croix-de-Guerre for his services.

After the war he returned to Lyon and was appointed Chef de Clinique to Leon Berard in 1923, becoming Chef de Service in 1927. He obtained his own clinic in Pavillon O at the Hôpital Edouard Herriot in 1933. Thenceforward the record of his achievement became a roll-call of pioneer advances in French surgery, particularly thoracic surgery. He was elected Professor of Operative Surgery in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Lyon in 1939 and Professor of Clinical Surgery in 1941, and continued actively at work throughout the German occupation.

He contributed with Alain Mouchet an influential report on the surgical treatment of cancer of the oesophagus to the fiftieth Congress of the French Association of Surgery in 1947, and after a visit to the United States in that year he introduced cardiac surgery to France in 1948, at first following the new American techniques, but soon developing his own modifications with great success. He was also a simple and luminous teacher, whose 'journées chirurgicales' were eagerly attended, and he introduced the system of entrusting small groups of students to instruction by his young assistants.

Santy's strong but sensitive character, his neat appearance and debonnaire bearing made him a centre of attraction for students and colleagues. He was active in many professional societies, locally, nationally and internationally, notably in the Société Française de Chirurgie Thoracique, of which he was a founder and its President in 1950. He received many honours including the Médaille de la Santé publique, and was an Officer of the Academy and an Officer of the Legion of Honour.

He retired in 1958 and died on 20 January 1970 aged eighty-three.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Annales de Chirurgie 1970, 24, 375].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England