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January 18, 1995

Surgical Case-Histories From the Past

Author Affiliations

The Hernia Center Freehold, NJ

JAMA. 1995;273(3):258-259. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520270094050

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It was said of the renowned surgeon John Chalmers DaCosta that his keen wit, dry humor, and mordant expression made him one of the best-known after-dinner speakers in Philadelphia. The mere announcement "DaCosta will speak" guaranteed large attendance. Having recently been privileged to hear Harold Ellis, CBE, emeritus chairman of the Department of Surgery at the Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School, London, England, regale an American dinner audience with his story of Queen Caroline's (wife of King George II) umbilical hernia, I attest that Ellis is the DaCosta of his generation.

I listened as Ellis enthralled the audience with his unique raconteurship What transfixed me was Ellis' use of surgical history as the foundation for his overall message of understanding change in modern society. I have since wondered, from what sources did Ellis receive his historical material? Was there some expatriate writer from Letterman or Leno who decided to

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