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Biographical entry Sandon, Raoul Peter Gauvain (1915 - 1998)

MRCS 1941; FRCS 1951; MB BS London 1949; LRCP 1941.

2 May 1915
Bilbao, Spain
10 October 1998
Tunbridge Wells
Plastic surgeon


Raoul Sandon was a leading plastic surgeon in London. He was born in Spain, in Bilbao, on 2 May 1915, the son of an English managing director of an iron mining company, and a French mother. He was first educated in Spain, and then attended school in Arcachon and Pau, France. As a result he was fluent in English, French and Spanish, and later added Italian. He went on to King's College, London, to study medicine, qualifying in 1941. He was house surgeon to Sir Cecil Wakeley and subsequently to Sir Archibald McIndoe at the East Grinstead Plastic Surgery Unit.

In December 1942 he joined the RAMC, serving initially as a regimental medical officer. He later transferred as a trainee to No 4 Maxillo-Facial Unit in Cairo under Michael Oldfield. In September 1944 he saw action with No 1 Maxillo-Facial Unit in Italy and was mentioned in despatches.

After the war, Raoul trained in general surgery at King's College Hospital and at Hammersmith, gaining his MB BS in 1949 and his FRCS in 1951. His subsequent plastic surgery training was supervised by Dickie Battle, then at St Thomas's Hospital. He became an honorary clinical assistant to St Thomas's. He was later appointed as consultant to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children in Hackney and Banstead, Colchester Black Notley Hospital, and the Lord Mayor Treloar Hospital for Crippled Children in Alton. In 1980 he became a civilian consultant to the Army. Together with John Watson, he was responsible for the establishment of the North East Thames Regional Plastic Surgery Unit at St Andrew's Hospital in Billericay in 1969.

He gave tremendous support to the British Association of Plastic Surgeons. After joining the council, he became honorary secretary (from 1963 to 1969) and was later honorary treasurer. His expertise enabled the association to become solvent. In 1972 he was elected President and that year held the summer meeting in Deauville with the French Association. The meeting was an enormous success, both scientifically and socially. Because of his linguistic fluency, he was naturally a Europhile, and so became plastic surgery's ambassador. He was elected a member of the plastic surgery societies of France, Spain, Italy and Belgium. He became President and honorary life President of the plastic surgery section of the Union Européene des Medecins Specialistes.

He married Naomi Ewing in 1940, and she supported him in his wide and varied professional duties at conferences in the early days. Sadly she became disabled in the last decade of her life, and Raoul cared for her at home. They had two sons, Peter, who is a general practitioner, and Ian, a pilot. Later he continued with medico-legal work, where his meticulous opinions were respected by barristers working for both parties. He was a popular colleague, a bon viveur, with a fund of stories. He was a delight to entertain and be entertained by. He died peacefully in the Kent and Sussex Hospital, Tunbridge Wells, on 10 October 1998, aged 83.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Br J Plast Surg 1999 52 155-157, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England