Wheeler Bryson Lipes
|Wheeler Bryson Lipes|
|Nickname(s)||"Doc" Lipes, Wheeler "Johnny" Lipes|
July 12, 1920|
New Castle, Virginia
|Died||April 17, 2005
New Bern, North Carolina
|Place of burial||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Awards||Navy Commendation Medal
In September 1942, Wheeler Lipes performed an emergency appendectomy aboard a United States Navy submarine. Although he did not have proper medical equipment or formal surgical training, the operation was a success. After the war, Mr. Lipes remained in the Navy and received a Medical Service Corps commission in 1951. He retired as a lieutenant commander.
In September 1942, aboard USS Seadragon, Pharmacist's Mate Wheeler B. Lipes performed the first major surgery aboard a submarine when a shipmate showing symptoms of acute appendicitis required an emergency operation to survive. Positioned in enemy waters and lacking standard medical equipment, Lipes performed a successful appendectomy using kitchen instruments such as spoons and tea strainers. "Doc" Lipes, as he was called, had no formal surgical training and just three years of medical experience as a hospital lab technician at the time of the surgery. The Navy medical establishment was angered by the occurrence, and there was talk of a court martial.
On December 14, 1942, the Chicago Daily News published an article by George Weller which told Wheeler B. Lipes' story. It won the 1943 Pulitzer Prize for Reporting. The events documented in the piece were incorporated into the film Destination Tokyo (1943) starring Cary Grant.
- Jennifer Ludden. "Navy Hero to Earn Medal for 1942 Surgery at Sea". NPR.org. February 19, 2005. Retrieved on 2008-11-26.
- "Oral History - Appendectomy Performed on Fourth War Patrol of USS Seadragon, 1942". Naval History and Heritage Command. October 19, 1999. Retrieved on 2011-12-27.
- Adam Bernstein. "Wheeler Lipes Dies; Did Emergency Surgery While on Sub". The Washington Post. April 19, 2005. Page B06. Retrieved on 2008-11-26.
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