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Hirji S Adenwalla

BMJ 2020; 369 doi: (Published 30 June 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m2592
  1. Sherna F Adenwalla,
  2. Alistair R M Cobb

Hirji S Adenwalla was the world’s longest serving cleft lip and palate surgeon. He worked at the Charles Pinto Centre for Cleft and Craniofacial Anomalies, which he founded at the Jubilee Mission Medical Hospital, Thrissur, Kerala, India. Adenwalla was renowned as a humble, open, and compassionate gentleman, but an exacting, reflective surgeon and a pioneer in his field. He is regarded as the father of modern cleft surgery in India. He was visited by and trained surgeons from India and across the globe, including many of the European, UK, and US plastic, maxillofacial, and cleft surgeons. He remained a mentor to many.

Adenwalla was born in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, to a Parsi family. After qualifying in medicine, he completed further training at the King Edward Memorial hospital and Jerbai Wadia Hospital, Mumbai, where his father was the dean. It was here that he developed a passion for cleft lip and palate surgery. He also became a proficient anaesthetist, which would stand him in good stead for his early years in Thrissur. He was influenced by the lives of Paul Brand and Ida Scudder and planned to work as a missionary doctor in Africa, when he fell in love with and married Gulnar. Instead, he joined the small Jubilee Mission Hospital in Thrissur in 1959. The 20 bed hospital was basic, and he was one of very few doctors …

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