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Biographical entry Piercy, John Edward (1899 - 1986)

CBE 1965; MRCS 1924; FRCS ad eundem 1949; FRCS Ed 1929; LRCP 1924.

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
6 February 1986
General surgeon


John Edward (Jack) Piercy was born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1899 and during the first world war served with the Royal Flying Corps. He returned to England in 1920 to start medical studies at Guy's Hospital qualifying in 1924. After early appointments at St Andrew's Hospital, Bow, and the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, he passed the FRCS Edinburgh in 1929 and three years later was appointed medical superintendent and surgeon specialist to the New End Hospital, Hampstead, where the London County Council had set up a goitre clinic. In addition to administrative duties he worked with Sir Geoffrey Keynes and Sir Thomas Dunhill, both of whom had been appointed consultants to the goitre clinic and soon developed a great interest in surgery of the thyroid gland in the years when operations for thyrotoxicosis were associated with considerable risk as effective antithyroid drugs had not been introduced. He practised conservative techniques in the treatment of multinodular goitre endeavouring to preserve as much apparently normal tissue as possible, and pioneered a technique of removing the thyroid gland with minimal loss of blood.

In 1942 he assisted Sir Geoffrey Keynes when he performed the first thymectomy in Britain and in the years after the war continued to do this operation for myasthenia gravis. He was elected FRCS ad eundem in 1949 and appointed Hunterian Professor in the following year. The New End Hospital acquired a high reputation for thyroid and thymic surgery and attracted many visitors and post-graduate students; an endocrine physician, Dr Raymond Greene was appointed to the staff and an isotope laboratory was instituted. This expansion attracted a large grant from King Edward's Hospital Fund, which was used to update the wards and build a new operating theatre. He wrote widely on his subject and in addition to articles in surgical journals also contributed chapters in standard textbooks.

He retired from the health service in 1965 and was awarded the CBE for his services to surgery. He continued to lead an active life until aged 80. His wife, Babs, died in 1984 and he died at home on 6 February 1986, survived by his daughter, Mary Miller.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1986, 292, 704 with portrait; Lancet 1986, 1, 693].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England