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Reply #21: James Crudup [View All]

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msgadget Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-27-06 02:26 AM
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21. James Crudup
He's still alive but he's got to be just one of many who've made such contributions in anonymity.

Surgeons learned skills from ex-trucker


James Crudup, who never went to college, who was never allowed to operate on a human, was the best surgeon in the medical school. And he could make you one of the best in the world.

Dr. Sherman Silber of St. Louis, a world-famous urologist, says of him: "He made me what I am."


He could do whatever he put his mind to, and particularly his hands. He watched the doctors coming through, transplanting organs in animals. He thought, "I believe I can do that." He learned terms from medical books. Vena cava, aortic arch. He practiced on the bodies of animals destined for the incinerator. It was as natural to him as rewiring a house.

A doctor who ran the lab found him out. He put a knife in Crudup's hand.

"Then he started sending residents to me," Crudup say. They were told, 'See Jimmy. If he can't teach you, you have to go.' "

By the time Sherman Silber found him, Crudup was already a legend.

"He could do shunts, liver transplants, much faster and with healthier results than any of the surgeons," Silber says. "And there were damn good surgeons.

"I went to him and told him what my problem was."

Silber wanted to be a surgeon. "But I wasn't good with my hands," he says. "I had a huge amount of insecurity about it. Jimmy was a prodigy. But he was kind."

Crudup taught him how to use his hands, he says.

"Then it went further."

Silber wanted to study transplant rejections, but the best subjects for this were inbred rats, animals with tiny organs and vessels - too tiny for the clumsy instruments at hand at the time. "I asked Jimmy if this was possible," Silber says.

"He thought about it for a minute, and said, 'Yeah, I think we can do that.'

"He made his own instruments. We basically pioneered microsurgery together."

In 2005, an Alabama woman, Stephanie Yarber, had a baby; 10 years earlier, her ovaries had shut down. The birth became possible because of a transplant of ovarian tissue donated by her identical twin.

Silber was the surgeon.

Now at St. Luke's Hospital in St. Louis, Silber is a renowned fertility expert; he's a pioneer in reverse vasectomies.

"I wouldn't have the techniques or tools to do that without Jimmy," he says.


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