The doodle for Vera Gedroits: who is the woman who changed military medicine

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Today, April 19, 2021 Google dedicates the “doodle” on the main page of the search engine to Vera Ignatievna Gedroits, the first female surgeon in Russia and one of the first in the world. In fact, today is the 151th anniversary of his birth. Besides being a doctor and university professor of surgery, she was also a poet and author of literary texts.

Vera Gedroits is best known for her studies and innovations in military surgery in wartime, thanks to which countless human lives have been saved. She was born on April 19, 1870 to a family of Lithuanian royal descent in Kiev, which at that time was part of the Russian Empire. In his late teens he left Russia to study medicine in Switzerland, but returned there in the early 20th century to begin his medical career as a surgeon in an industrial hospital.

A few years later, in 1904, when the Russo-Japanese War broke out, Vera Gedroits volunteered on a Red Cross hospital train to be a surgeon. Under enemy fire, she became the protagonist of numerous and difficult abdominal operations in a railway car that she transformed into an operating room: an unprecedented fact that was even adopted as a new standard by the Russian government.

After her service in the war, Vera Gedroits also worked as a surgeon for the Russian royal family before returning to her Kiev, where in 1929 she became a professor of surgery at the University.

In addition to publishing scientific articles, Vera Gedroits has also written collections of poems and essays, including the 1931 memoir simply titled “Life”. Suffering from a tumor, the woman celebrated today by Google died in 1932 in her Kiev, where she is buried.

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