Gay, John (1813-1885) (DNB00)

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GAY, JOHN (1813–1885), surgeon, was born at Wellington, Somersetshire, in 1813, and after a successful studentship at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, became M.R.C.S. in 1834, and in 1836 was appointed surgeon to the newly established Royal Free Hospital, with which he was connected for eighteen years. In 1856 he became surgeon of the Great Northern Hospital, of which he was senior surgeon at the time of his death, which took place on 15 Sept. 1885, after two years' partial paralysis. He left a widow, one daughter, and two sons. Besides contributions to the medical press and an elaborate article on ‘Cleft Palate’ in Costello's ‘Cyclopædia of Surgery,’ Gay wrote several important practical memoirs, which are enumerated below. His work on femoral rupture (1848) described a new mode of operating, modified from that of Mr. Luke. Sir W. Fergusson, in his ‘Practical Surgery,’ says of it: ‘For many years I have rarely performed any other operation for crural hernia.’ The book exhibits much anatomical and surgical research. He also advocated and successfully practised the free incision of acutely suppurating joints, and this came into general use. In the treatment of chronic and indurated ulcers of the leg he introduced considerable improvements, and his Lettsomian lectures and other writings exhibit intelligence, study, and practical skill. Gay was of short stature, active, enthusiastic, and somewhat impetuous, high-principled and popular socially. He wrote: 1. ‘On Femoral Rupture, its Anatomy, Pathology, and Surgery,’ 4to, 1848. 2. ‘On Indolent Ulcers and their Surgical Treatment,’ 1855. 3. ‘On Varicose Disease of the Lower Extremities and its Allied Disorders’ (the Lettsomian lectures before the Medical Society of London, 1867), 1868. 4. ‘On Hæmorrhoidal Disorder,’ 1882. He contributed many papers to the medical journals and transactions of societies.

[Lancet, Medical Times, 26 Sept. 1885; Barker's Photographs of Eminent Medical Men, ii. 43; Trans. Medico-Chirurg. Soc. lxix. 13.]

G. T. B.