Intended for healthcare professionals

Fillers One hundred years ago

The Nestor of medicine

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 05 April 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:759

The oldest member of the medical profession now living is said to be Dr. Jean David of Montpellier, who on February 8th entered on his 103rd year. He was born at Murviel-les-Montpellier on the 19th Pluviôse, Year IX of the Republic one and indivisible, which in the ordinary calendar is February 8th, 1801. He practised his profession for three-quarters of a century at Grabels, a country district near Montpellier, making his daily rounds on horseback. In his youth he is said to have witnessed the march of Wellington and the Peninsular army through Southern France after the battle of Toulouse. His first serious illness—an attack of typhoid fever—occurred when he was 63 years of age. When he was 91 he was attacked by congestion of the lungs, but promptly recovered. Dr. David, who retired from practice a good many years ago, enjoys excellent health, and age has in no way dimmed the brightness of his intelligence. His only infirmity is failing eyesight. On being asked recently by an interviewer to reveal the secret of his length of days, Dr. David replied: “Sobriety in all respects. The human body is a wonderful machine whose organs should never be overtaxed. For my part I continue living much as I have always lived. I am only worried by one thing—the idleness to which failing eyesight has now condemned me.” He speaks with enthusiasm of the wonderful progress which he has seen achieved by medicine and surgery in the course of his career. (BMJ 1903;i:511)