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Biographical entry Maingot, Rodney Honor Andrew (1893 - 1982)

MRCS 1916; FRCS 1920; LRCP 1916.

27 February 1893
Port of Spain, Trinidad
3 January 1982
Abdominal surgeon and General surgeon


Rodney Maingot often used to speak of his parrot which resided in his consulting rooms. He claimed it had been trained to say 'You've got gallstones - send for Rodney' to those who entered. Showman? Perhaps, according to some. Master class abdominal surgeon? Certainly, according to the innumerable surgeons from home and overseas who came to watch him operate, and to those in training who enjoyed working under him or learnt from his many surgical writings appreciating his rare gift of clarity of expression.

He was the fourth son of Andrew Maingot, a solicitor, cocoa-planter and landowner in Trinidad, and his Danish wife, Christina (Sellman). Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on 27 February 1893 he was educated in England at Ushaw College, Durham, and St Augustine's College, Ramsgate, where he won prizes in history and literature, an early interest which was to remain. A student and houseman of St Bartholomew's Hospital between 1910 and 1916, he was a Captain in the RAMC during the first world war serving in Egypt and Palestine and was mentioned in despatches. He returned to Bart's in 1920 attaining the appointment of chief assistant to the Surgical Unit. He was also clinical assistant to Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital and the surgical registrar to West London Hospital. Amongst those he assisted and who undoubtedly influenced him in abdominal surgery were Berkeley (Lord) Moynihan whose private assistant he was, and Tyrell-Gray, surgeon to the West London Hospital. Rodney Maingot certainly followed the Moynihan tradition, being a master of technique and in gently handling the tissues, 'caressing them' as Moynihan would say.

When the second world war broke out Rodney Maingot was surgeon to the Royal Waterloo Hospital and Southend General Hospital. He worked in the Emergency Medical Service throughout as a senior regional officer. In 1945 he was invited to join the staff of the Royal Free Hospital to fill the vacancy left by the death of Cecil Joll, a signal mark of his ability and reputation. It was in this postwar era working at the Royal Free and Southend General Hospitals that he attracted countless visitors to watch his gastrectomy and biliary surgery techniques. Visitors came to his Saturday sessions at the Southend General Hospital, beginning with certain clinic patients kept for his opinion and waiting his arrival from London. A long operating session ensued, using two theatres and two assistant surgeons the list extending well into the evening. His private practice became enormous and patients were referred from all parts of the globe. He had rooms in the London Clinic, an institution with which he was concerned from its inception, and he edited the London Clinic journal.

A human attribute was his dislike of postoperative complications. He felt that he had done a good operation and that somehow he had been let down. He was a punctual surgeon who arrived regularly for his sessions. He was the epitome of elegance in black jacket, pin-striped trousers and pearl tie pin, even his theatre suits were personally tailored.

Maingot began his prodigious efforts in writing books for postgraduate surgeons in the 1930's. Among these were: The management of abdominal operations (1931, 2nd ed 1957); The injection treatment of varicose veins, haemorrhoids and other conditions (1932); and Technique of gastric operations (1941). Postgraduate surgery (1936-37), a huge cooperative work in three volumes which he edited and for which he wrote nearly all the sections on abdominal surgery, was a great success both at home and abroad and widened his reputation. Following in the footsteps of his chief Lord Moynihan, he wrote his two volume Abdominal operations in 1940. This ran to seven editions, the last (1980) being a collected work from many contributors who were pleased and honoured to be associated. For many years he was editor-in-chief of the British journal of clinical practice. The elegant little booklet The relationship of art and medicine (1974) epitomised his love of art and his own paintings in oils were often to be seen in exhibitions. He was a connoisseur of opera. In his earlier days, he was a keen golfer and an able cricketer and his interest in Test matches was well-known.

Maingot was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine where he was a member of Council and President of the Section of Surgery. He was also a Fellow of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland. Awarded a Sydney Bodly Gold Medal in 1958, he retired from his hospital appointments at the end of that year, but still retained his large private practice. In 1963 he delivered the Dr Frank H Lahey memorial lecture in Boston, USA. He was Visiting Professor in Surgery at the Ohio State University Hospital in 1960; at the Mount Sinai Hospital, Miami, in 1963; at the Maadi Hospital, Cairo, in 1967-8 and he was also consultant surgeon to the Royal Prince Albert Hospital, Sydney.

He married first Rosalind Smeaton of Brisbane who died in 1957 and in 1965 he married Catherine Evelyn Plesch of London. He died on 3 January 1982 aged 88 years and Catherine died on 25 January 1983.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1982, 284, 208, 280, 431; Lancet 1982, 1, 178; Times 5 January 1982; Daily Telegraph 6 January 1982].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England