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John M Templeton Jr

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 29 June 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h3278
  1. Ned Stafford, Hamburg
  1. ns{at}

Paediatric surgeon, philanthropist, and head of the John Templeton Foundation

In the latter part of 1957, John M Templeton Jr received some bad news—he would have to undergo surgery to repair his left knee. Templeton, the son of mutual funds pioneer, billionaire, and philanthropist John Templeton Sr, had received the injury playing American football, when he was crunched hard simultaneously by three opposing players.

Templeton’s doctor, Frank Stinchfield, head of orthopaedic surgery at Columbia University in New York City, explained to the 17 year old boy that to allow his knee to heal properly, the crushed ligament and cartilage would have to be removed. Rather than being worried that his knee would be sliced open, Templeton, known throughout his life by the nickname Jack, became fascinated with the idea of surgery.

“I wanted to participate in my own case,” Templeton wrote 50 years later in his autobiography, John M Templeton Jr: Physician, Philanthropist, Seeker.1 “I asked the anaesthetist to give me a spinal, which would allow me to be awake during the operation. I even hoped that they would put up some mirrors so that I could watch the operation, but they flatly refused.” …

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