The surgical alumni association for the Departments of Surgery of Lahey Clinic, New England Deaconess Hospital, and Boston City Hospital Vth Surgical Service (Harvard Surgical Service), the Sedgwick Society honors a great surgeon and his many contributions to the art and science of surgery, as well as his humanity and his dedication to the teaching of future surgeons.
Cornelius Sedgwick was a senior attending surgeon on staff at the Lahey Clinic from 1948 to 1984. His 42-year career as a general surgeon took him all over the world, and on several occasions gave him a firsthand glimpse at changes following major cultural and political upheavals.
Sedgwick made similar educational trips over a 10-year period to Japan, the Malay Peninsula, Kenya and most of Europe. In China, he observed changes that were sartorial, as well as political. “The first time I went, in 1981, all of the doctors wore Mao uniforms,” he recalls. "Two years later, when I went back, everyone was dressed in Western styles.”
Sedgwick first shared his surgical skills internationally during World War II, when he served as an army surgeon with the Ninth Evacuation Hospital, a MASH unit out of New York’s Roosevelt Hospital. He was sent to England and then on to the invasion of North Africa. From there his unit accompanied the Eighth British Army to Tunisia, Italy, southern France, and Germany. He visited the concentration camp at Dachau after its liberation.
The majority of Sedgwick's surgical career, however, was spent at home. He was a general surgeon as well as a member of the board of governors and a trustee at Lahey Clinic in Boston. He was also a clinical professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, and chief of surgery and a trustee of New England Deaconess Hospital, positions he held until he retired at age 70.
“I guess the rules said I was supposed to retire when I was 65,” said Sedgwick, “but I didn't want to. I loved my work. I loved to do surgery.”