DR. MAX THOREK
The International College of Surgeons was founded in 1935 by Dr. Max Thorek, (born March 10, 1880, Hungary, died January 25, 1960, Chicago). He was also co-founder of the American Hospital in Chicago, and his contributions to the art of surgery earned worldwide recognition.
Life intruded on Thorek’s preparations for school at home in Budapest when his brother died in a pogrom led by the local community. Shortly after the death of his brother, the family emigrated to Chicago where Thorek attended the University of Chicago for his undergraduate studies.
In 1904, he received his medical degree from Rush Medical College in Chicago. Then, after serving his internship in obstetrics, Thorek opened his first office in Chicago’s West Side slums. In his work on the West Side, he practiced general medicine for several years before turning to general surgery. Together with Solomon Greenspahn in 1908 he established the American Hospital and was its chief surgeon until his death.
After World War I, Thorek devoted considerable time to research, especially in the field of reconstructive surgery. In the 1930s he perfected a surgical technique that significantly reduced the mortality rate in gallbladder operations. During this period, he felt the need for an international organization of surgeons dedicated to maintaining the highest possible standards of surgery and at the same time providing instruction for younger men. The International College of Surgeons was established by him for these purposes in Geneva in 1935. He contributed to many medical journals; among his books are Surgical Errors and Safeguards (1932) and Modern Surgical Technic (1938).
Today, the International College of Surgeons and the International Museum of Surgical Science both work diligently to continue the vision of Dr. Thorek. Both through our fellowship programs in the ICS and the objects and artwork at the Museum, we carry forward his legacy today.
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