War Surgery, The First World War & Major L.B. Robertson

Discussion Paper Title

The University of Toronto’s lasting contribution to war surgery: how Maj. L. Bruce Robertson fundamentally transformed thinking toward blood transfusion during the First World War.

Summary

During the Great War, Canadian military surgeons produced some of the greatest innovations to improve survival on the battlefield.

Arguably, the most important was bringing blood transfusion practice close to the edge of the battlefield to resuscitate the many casualties dying of hemorrhagic shock.

Dr. L. Bruce Robertson of the Canadian Army Medical Corps was the pioneering surgeon from the University of Toronto who was able to demonstrate the benefit of blood transfusions near the front line and counter the belief that saline was the resuscitation fluid of choice in military medicine.

Robertson would go on to survive the Great War, but would be taken early in life by influenza. Despite his life and career being cut short, Robertson’s work is still carried on today by many military medical organisations who strive to bring blood to the wounded in austere and dangerous settings.

Reference

Tien, A., Beckett, A. & Pannell, D. (2017) The University of Toronto’s lasting contribution to war surgery: how Maj. L. Bruce Robertson fundamentally transformed thinking toward blood transfusion during the First World War. Canadian Journal of Surgery. 60(3), pp.152–154. doi: 10.1503/cjs.006317.

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