Rowena Spencer

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Rowena Spencer (July 3, 1922 – May 13, 2014)[1] was an American physician who specialized in pediatric surgery at a time when it was unusual for a female to become a surgeon. She was the first female surgical intern at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, the first female appointed to the full-time surgery staff at Louisiana State University, and the first female surgeon in Louisiana.[2][3]

Medical career[edit]

Spencer practiced at Tulane University Hospital from 1968 to 1977, after which she maintained a private practice until her retirement in 1984. She was known to be very devoted to the babies whom she cared for, often sleeping at the hospital in order to monitor her patients' condition after surgery.[1]

Conjoined twins[edit]

In 1990 Spencer began to do research on conjoined twins, and became one of the world's leading authorities on the subject. She later published a book on the topic, entitled Conjoined Twins: Developmental Malformations and Clinical Implications. She also aided in separating four sets of conjoined twins.[1]

Recognition and legacy[edit]

In 1999, Spencer was honored by Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.[2]


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ a b Walker, Billie (June 1999). "Alumni News:". Johns Hopkins Magazine. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University.
  3. ^ Allured, Janet, and Judith F. Gentry. (2009) Louisiana women: Their Lives and Times. Athens: University of Georgia Press. Chapter "Rowena Spencer", starts on page 286-302. Accessed on 02 April 2010.