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Benjamin Rank

Surgeon 1946-1966
Member Board of Management 1976-1982

Benjamin Rank was born in Heidelberg, Melbourne in 1911, educated at Scotch College and graduated in Medicine from the University of Melbourne in 1934. After initial experience as a Resident at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 1935-36, he travelled to England for surgical training in the new and challenging speciality of plastic and facio-maxillary surgery. In 1940, he enlisted in the Army, and in 1941, was sent to Egypt to establish a plastic and facio-maxillary surgical unit at the 2nd Australian General Hospital.


In 1942, he returned to Melbourne to set up a similar unit at the Heidelberg Military Hospital. In 1946, he was appointed Honorary Plastic Surgeon in charge of the newly established Plastic and Facio-maxillary Unit at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, a position he held until 1966. In addition, he was the Foundation Chairman to the hospitalís Board of Post-Graduate Medical Education from 1968-75; Medical Advisor on Policy and Development to the Board of Management from 1971-76; a member of the hospitalís Board of Management from 1976-82; and Foundation Chairman of The Royal Melbourne Hospital Archives Committee from 1979-87. In this latter role, he, together with former Chief Executive Len Swinden and Clinical Photographer Arthur Wigley, was instrumental in the creation of the original Historical Room.

In 1963, he established the Victorian Plastic Surgery Unit at the Preston and Northcote Community Hospital. From 1955, Rank was a Councillor of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and was its President in 1966-1968. In 1958, he was appointed Sims Commonwealth Professor of Surgery and in 1965 he became the only overseas President of the British Association of Plastic Surgeons. Rank was made a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1955 for his work in training Asian surgeons under the Colombo Plan, was knighted by the Queen in 1972, and made a Knight Commander of the Order of St. John in 1988. In 1984, he was instrumental in the establishment of Interplast, a partnership between Rotary clubs in Australia and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons offering plastic surgical expertise and training to South Pacific and Asian nations. Sir Benjamin Rank is regarded as one of the pioneers of plastic and reconstructive surgery in Australia. He died in 2002.

Sources: Alan Gregory: The Ever Open Door: A History of The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Hyland House, 1998; Obituary in Chiron, Volume 4, Number 5, June 2002; RMH Archives.


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