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Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub wins prestigious Lister medal

17 June, 2015

The surgeon who performed the first heart and lung transplant in Britain, and pioneered a life-saving technique for babies with heart vessel problems, has won the prestigious Lister Medal, in recognition of his contribution to surgical science.

Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub will receive the award at the Royal College of Surgeons later this year when he will deliver the Lister Oration.

Born, educated and medically trained in Egypt, Magdi Yacoub moved to London, Chicago and then back to London, where he became a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon. In 1980, he established the cardiac transplant programme at Harefield Hospital in Middlesex. It was here, in 1983, that he performed the first heart and lung transplant in the UK. His research activities have included tissue engineering of heart valves, myocardial regeneration and the development of novel left ventricular assist devices.

On being notified of his award, Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, said: “I am honoured to receive this award and hope that it will inspire other surgeons to become involved in research. In order for medicine to progress, we need surgeons to be at the forefront of research, working alongside academics.

“I have had a wonderful career and the privilege of treating patients of all ages – from babies to the very elderly - who had a variety of heart conditions. A lot of the research and work I have undertaken has relied on team work and for that I have to thank my talented and committed NHS colleagues.

“Surgery in general and cardiac surgery in particular offers unprecedented opportunities for alleviating human suffering and advancing science.”

Miss Clare Marx, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: “Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub is renowned around the world for being an incredibly skilful cardiac and transplant surgeon. He has also made an exceptional contribution to medical research. The Lister Medal is one of the highest accolades a surgeon can receive and I’m sure that colleagues - and generations of patients he has treated - will agree he is a very deserving recipient.”

The Lister Medal and Oration is considered the most distinguished award in surgery in Great Britain and Ireland but the award is not confined to surgeons from those countries. It was founded as a lasting mark of respect to the surgeon Joseph Lister (1827-1912), whose work on antiseptics established the basis of modern sterile surgery.The selection for the award is made by a committee, with members appointed by the Royal Society, the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow and the Society of Academic and Research Surgery.