Congratulations to
Plastic surgery

Plaster cast of the Venus de Milo with digitally modelized arms

Picture: / malerapaso; / StudioM1

Survivors of serious accidents often have to deal with lasting consequences. Some are left with facial disfigurement or lose entire limbs. But plastic surgery can help. In 1958, a young female doctor brought this discipline to Germany and became a role model for a whole generation of surgeons.

Beyond cosmetic – helping and healing

The first ever transplant of two complete arms was performed on a farmer from Germany’s Allgäu region, who lost both limbs after an accident with a maize chopper. Never before had such a large amount of foreign tissue been transplanted into a human being. The operation was a resounding success: a few years later, the patient was again able to ride a bicycle and drive a tractor without assistance.

This medical marvel took place in 2008 at the same spot where this type of surgery was pioneered in Germany fifty years earlier: the Klinikum rechts der Isar hospital of the Technical University of Munich (TUM). In 1958, young doctor Ursula Schmidt-Tintemann established a department for plastic surgery here – the first of its kind in Germany.

The patients were mainly victims of fire, acid, war and accidents. Together with her colleagues, Schmidt-Tintemann worked to reconstruct faces and injured body parts. They transplanted tissue such as skin, nerves and bone to restore damaged areas of the body and close wounds. Above all, Schmidt-Tintemann’s aim was healing and helping people. Doctors from all over Germany came to Munich to be trained by her.

“As a pioneer in her field, she brought national prestige and international visibility to TUM’s medical faculty and Klinikum rechts der Isar hospital. She set a precedent both medically and ethically for subsequent generations of esthetic plastic surgeons and is regarded as a role model for women in medicine.”

Portrait Prof. Wolfgang A. Herrmann

Wolfgang A. Herrmann, President of the Technical University of Munich

Bild: Astrid Eckert / TUM

Curious? More discoveries and inventions spanning 150 years of TUM

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