Sir Archibald McIndoe (May 4, 1900 - April 11, 1960) was a plastic surgeon who worked for the Royal Air Force during World War II who greatly improved the treatment and rehabilitation of badly burned aircrew.
Archibald McIndoe was born May 4 1900 in Dunedin, New Zealand to a family of four. His father was a printer. McIndoe studied at Otago High School and later medicine at Otago University. After his graduation he became a house surgeon at Waihato Hospital. On July 31 1924 he married Adonia Aitken and they later had two daughters.
In 1924 McIndoe was awarded a fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in the United States to study pathological anatomy. He worked in the clinic a First Assistant in Pathological Anatomy 1925-1927 and published several papers on chronic liver disease. Impressed with his skill, Lord Moynihan suggested a career in England and in 1930 McIndoe moved to London.
At first McIndoe could not find work but his cousin, Sir Harold Gillies, a plastic surgeon, suggested he took a job at St Bartholomew's Hospital where he became a clinical assistant. In 1932 he received a permanent appointment as a General Surgeon and Lecturer at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and 1934 a Fellowship of the American College of Surgeons until 1939. That year he became a consulting plastic surgeon to the Royal North Stafford Infirmary and to Croydon General Hospital. In 1938 he was appointed consultant in plastic surgery to the Royal Air Force.
When World War Two broke out, McIndoe moved to the recently rebuilt Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, Sussex and founded a Centre for Plastic and Jaw surgery. He had to treat very deep burns and serious facial disfigurement like loss of eyelids. Many of the operation were experimental, because no one had actually done the job in this scale before. Patients at the hospital formed the Guinea Pig Club.
He not only developed new techniques for treating badly burned faces and hands but also recognised the importance of the rehabilitation of the casualties and particularly of social reintegration back into normal life. He disposed of the "convalescent uniforms" and let the patients use their service uniforms instead. With the help of two friends, Neville and Elaine Blond, he also convinced the locals to support the patients and invited them to their home. McIndoe kept referring to them as "his boys" and the staff called him "The Boss" or "The Maestro".
McIndoe was created CBE in 1944 and after the war he received number of British and foreign honors, including a knighthood in 1947. He became a member of a council of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1946 and its president in 1958. His marriage to Adonia ended 1953 and he married Constance Belcham 1954.
In 1958 McIdoe was a Bradshaw lecturer about facial burns, subject he knew well. He took part in the founding of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons (BAPS) and later served as its third President.
Archibald McIndoe died April 11-12 1960 in his sleep. He was cremated and the ashes buried in the Royal Air Force church of St Clement Danes. On March 22 1961, British minister of health opened a Blond-McIndoe Research Unit named in his honor at the Queen Victoria Hospital.