Professor Jacques Duparc (1924–2022)
Professor Jacques Duparc (Fig. 1) left us at the age of 98 in April 2022. A great boss has left us, issued from that generation where teaching was not limited to surgical technique. He entertained a demanding and emotional relationship with his students whom, he freely admitted, he did not hesitate to bully, because he wanted to get the best out of them. This did not prevent him from worrying about a family or a personal problem after having reprimanded the one who had failed.
His skills were eclectic, from hand surgery (he was one of the founding members of the Society of Hand Surgery) to lower limb surgery, which he developed during his tenure as Department Head of the Bichat Hospital in Paris. My first meeting with him left me with a strong impression: He sought the opinions of his clinical staff and interns during the morning meetings of traumatology, where he did not hesitate to criticize the postoperative radiographs. During the multidisciplinary staff meetings and the weekly department visits, the juniors presented the patients’ cases, which had better be perfectly known. The year was spent preparing the Bichat Teaching Days where he not only invited renowned foreign guests but where he also gave the floor to his students, including the youngest. It was necessary to review patient cases, to master everything about a particular topic and then to rewrite the texts sometimes dozens of times until he was satisfied. He checked everything himself, which gave us the opportunity to spend evenings working with him, where he tirelessly asked to rephrase any expression that did not seem clear to him. He had a love of words, of exact expressions and of correct syntax. Those, young and not so young, who had to author lectures for the collection of the annual instructional SOFCOT (Société Française de Chirurgie Orthopédique) books that he founded, can testify to this.
He knew how to put in their place those who were too confident. For him, a surgeon who boasted of operating quickly was only an expedient surgeon. When I was a young intern, he entrusted me with my first patient, whom I had to operate on. I had to remove two screws securing an anterior tibial tuberosity, a task I performed quickly and, it seemed to me, brilliantly. When I met him again, he asked me if I had forgotten anything, to which I confidently stated that I had not, since there were only two screws to remove. He looked at me and said, without having checked anything himself, that he did not believe me. Indeed, on the control X-rays that I had not looked at, there were still two washers. From the beginning I learned that nothing could be hidden, nothing could be forgotten and that everything had to be checked.
I was always impressed by his interest in trauma. He was obsessed with understanding and classifying fractures, and he wanted the classification to be literary and descriptive, not numerical. He continued, even at the end of his career, to go down to the OR to demonstrate how an osteosynthesis should be performed.
When I succeeded Jean Yves Alnot and Denis Huten, I was very touched that he came to Bichat when I became head of the department, as if he wanted to pass on to me one last time the principles of orthopedic surgery, a technical but eminently human discipline. A man of principle, rigor and honor, his students are in mourning and will not forget him because he was a unique character and master. They offer their affectionate condolences to his family.