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Biographical entry Kessel, Lipmann (1914 - 1986)

MBE 1944; MC 1944; MRCS and FRCS 1947; MB BS London 1937.

19 December 1914
South Africa
5 June 1986
Orthopaedic surgeon


Lipmann Kessel was born in South Africa on 19 December 1914. He studied first at Witwatersrand University and then at St Mary's Hospital Medical School, graduating in 1937. Following resident posts in London he joined the RAMC. He volunteered for parachute duties and became surgeon in command of No 1 Parachute Surgical Team. He took part in the battle of Arnhem. He was captured but managed to escape and was at liberty in enemy occupied territory. Here he joined up with Brigadier, later General, Sir John Hackett who had been a patient of Kessel's and later recorded that he owed more than forty years of life to him. Together they escaped to allied territory. For his services Kessel was appointed MBE (military division) and awarded the Military Cross.

Kessel returned to work at Mary's as a senior registrar where he was greatly influenced by Valentine Ellis, first orthopaedic surgeon to the hospital. After work as a clinical research assistant at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital he became consultant surgeon to the Fulham and St Mary Abbots Hospitals. He played a leading part in the establishment on the site of the Fulham Hospital of the new Charing Cross Cross Hospital. He was appointed director of studies and later Professor at the Institute of Orthopaedics. He wrote several important works on orthopaedic surgery - in particular on surgery of the shoulder joint.

"Lippy", as he was known to his numerous friends, was loved and respected by his colleagues and by juniors for his boldness, for his informed but questioning approach and for his integrity. He held firmly to Marxist principles but never thought to impose his views on others. He developed a chronic circulatory disease requiring operative treatment. He died on 5 June 1986.

Lipmann Kessel was three times married. He was survived by his wife Beryl, nee Tilley, two sons and two daughters.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet 1986, 2, 114 with portrait; The Times 17 June 1986 with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England