Mr Max Harrison had an exceptionally distinguished career, serving as a consultant at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital and the General Hospital, Birmingham. He was recognised around the world as one of the leading orthopaedic thinkers of his generation.
His best known scientific contribution was working out the blood supply of the head of the femur. The paper that he published on the subject in 1953 is still quoted in orthopaedic textbooks as the landmark study of the subject. This understanding of the blood supply and also the growth of the head of the femur led to new treatments for Perthes disease which is a childhood disorder of the femoral head.
The understanding of the blood supply to the head of the femur by Harrison was also an important contribution to the development of hip resurfacing. Mr Harrison had a tremendous reputation for thinking, often to the exasperation of his trainees. In 1955 he published a paper on the future of hip arthroplasty, nearly ten years before the development of total hip replacement.
Mr Harrison’s most visible contribution to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital was his vision to raise money for the Research and Teaching Centre. When he arrived in Birmingham from Oxford he was shocked to discover that there were no facilities for surgical training, teaching or research at the Woodlands whereas there was a large school of physiotherapy and a dedicated nursing school. As there was no public money available, he set up a public charity to finance the project. He organised the younger consultants, such as Alistair Thompson and Paddy Mulligan, to get out in to the local shopping centres and rattle tins to raise the funds.
The legacy that he would be most proud of is the continued success of the higher surgical training programme based at the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital. This training programme currently has the highest pass rate at the final FRCS exam of any of the training programmes in the UK and Ireland. (Written by Mr Andrew Thomas, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon)
The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital wishes to carry on the legacy of Mr Max Harrison by delivering a continuing series of specialist orthopaedic lectures in his name.
These lectures are open lectures, available to anyone who is interested in learning more about developments within orthopaedics.
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