He was one of the world’s pioneers in transplantation. Lyon professor Jean-Michel Dubernard died on July 10 at the age of 80. His most striking transplants remain those of a hand on a man and of a face on a disfigured patient.
“My only motivation is to advance medicine. I do it for my patients”, confided in 2005 on a daily basis The world this outstanding surgeon and urologist by training.
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An ancient vocation
“I was barely 11 years old when I had the vocation after an operation for appendicitis and the announcement of the first kidney transplant” (note: in Boston in the United States), explained to World this workaholic, a big fan of rugby and poetry in his spare time.
Doctor of medicine and human biology, also trained at Harvard Medical School in Boston under the American surgeon Joseph Murray, Nobel Prize winner in medicine in 1990, Jean-Michel Dubernard – whom his relatives nicknamed “Max” – had successfully completed the first European kidney-pancreas transplant in 1976.
This was followed by the world’s first hand transplant, in September 1998, on New Zealander Clint Hallam. Then the – bilateral – of the hands and forearms on the Frenchman Denis Chatelier in January 2000.
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A reputation as a pioneer
Five years later, at age 64, he struck a new big planetary blow by participating in the first partial face transplant (the triangle formed by the nose and the mouth) on the French Isabelle Dinoire, disfigured by her dog.
“Isabelle had her mouth ripped out. We couldn’t fix it. We had to help her, otherwise we wouldn’t have been doctors,” he said to the World after this feat. In 2008, he received the Medewar award for outstanding contributions in the field of transplantation.
His reputation is such that many years later, an Icelandic man with two arms amputated, on his advice, settled in Lyon to benefit from a transplant. He will finally be operated on in January, for a new success of the Lyon school of transplantation.
A career in Lyon
Born in Lyon on May 17, 1941, Jean-Michel Dubernard had spent his entire medical career in the capital of the Gauls, where he held the post of head of the urology and transplants department at the Edouard Herriot hospital (1987-2002).
At the same time a professor at the Claude Bernard Lyon I University and a researcher at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research, he is the author of some 500 international medical publications.
HAS Transparency Commissioner
After a stint at the Haute Autorité de Santé (2008-2017), where he headed the Transparency Commission which evaluates drugs that have obtained their marketing authorization, Jean-Michel Dubernard withdrew from public life .
Divorced, he had three children. He was a knight of the Legion of Honor, of the National Order of Merit and of the Academic Palms.