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Biographical entry Eerland, Leendert Daniel (1897 - 1977)

Knight of the Dutch Lion; Officer of the Order of Orange Nassau; Hon FRCS 1962; MD Utrecht 1926.

25 February 1897
Rotterdam, Netherlands
29 June 1977
General surgeon, Obstetrician and gynaecologist and Thoracic surgeon


Born in Rotterdam on 25 February 1897, the son of a teacher who moved to the Dutch East Indies in 1905, Eerland spent part of his childhood in what is now Indonesia, a land for which he retained a life-long affection. He received his professional education at the faculty of medicine in Utrecht from 1916 to 1921 and decided to specialise in surgery and gynaecology. His thesis in 1926 was Mola hydatidosa, mola destruens and chorionepithelioma.

In 1926 he went back to the East Indies and spent the next two years in the department of surgery of the Medical Faculty of Batavia, and from 1928 to 1937 he was surgeon and medical director at the Hospital of the Handelsvereeniging Amsterdam in Paree (Kediri), East Java. Although he spent much time on obstetrics and was interested in leprosy, pulmonary tuberculosis and tumours, his main contribution was his intensive study of endemic goitre, which had reached such proportions in the East Indies that sculptors depicted their gods and heroes with enormous swellings in the neck as a sign of prestige and greatness. It is mainly due to Eerland's work that Indonesia is now comparatively free from this disorder.

He returned to the Netherlands in 1937 on election to the Chair of General Surgery at the University of Groningen. Although he always remained a general surgeon he became expert in the field of thoracic surgery: his pioneer work in lung surgery and his postgraduate courses attracted surgeons from all parts of the world and more than twenty nationalities were often represented at a course. Besides being a great teacher he was a brilliant technical surgeon and had remarkable success as a pioneer in lung resection for pulmonary tuberculosis. He also led the way in cardiac and pancreatic surgery, and was for many years Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Groningen. He is remembered as an eminent surgeon, a fine organiser and administrator and a man of style, self discipline and dry humour.

After his retirement he wrote an autobiography entitled 'The scalpel and the candle' the candle in the title referring to his motto: In serviendo consumer - In serving I am consumed.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England