Surgical Reminiscence
May 2000

The Friendship Between Alton Ochsner and Mims Gage

Author Affiliations

Copyright 2000 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2000

Arch Surg. 2000;135(5):607. doi:10.1001/archsurg.135.5.607

IN THE DEEP South the friendship between Alton Ochsner and Mims Gage is legendary. They were great teachers at the Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, La, and were partners in practice for many years. Their friendship seemed unlikely since one's background was the upper Midwest, and the other was from the deep South. Further, their personalities were almost opposites. Ochsner was quite proper in dress and speech. He was compulsive, organized, and disciplined. He always seemed to be in complete control of himself and of any situation in which he found himself. Once Dr Ochsner lectured in Mobile, Ala, on the relationship between cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Afterward someone stated that he had found that patients with rectal cancer were more likely to be smokers. Could Dr Ochsner explain that? Ochsner replied that he could not, unless people in Mobile inhaled much more deeply than those in New Orleans. In contrast, Gage was much more relaxed. He was a noted raconteur. His jokes were famous, he liked to party, and was thought to be occasionally intemperate. Yet, they seemed like brothers. Each named a son after the other. From the outside and from a student's viewpoint, this relationship seemed unexpected.

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