Ashley Lo | January 15, 2020
Brooke Guenther couldn’t believe her good fortune. She was spending six days in the London Metropolitan Archives, transcribing files from 60 facial reconstruction surgeries performed during and after World War I.
Only a handful of people had ever viewed the files before — and for a history and Arts and Letters pre-health major, there was no place she’d rather be.
“Having the love I have for history, it was like being in a candy store,” said Guenther. “Spending hours in the World War I section, knowing I was contributing to its history with my thesis, was just so exciting.”
Guenther was reviewing work done by Sir Harold Gillies, the father of modern-day plastic surgery, comparing photos of wounds and analyzing the surgeon’s notes. She paid particularly close attention to the tubed pedicle reconstructive technique, an innovative method for repairing skin and soft tissue that reduced the risk of infection.
With a heart for both the human and the technical sides of surgery, Guenther hopes her senior thesis research will fill in the history around Gillies’ surgical advances, exploring the relationship between patients and the surgeon and studying societal reaction to survivors of wounded veterans who underwent plastic surgery.
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