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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-5

IT Jackson: End of an era

Department of Plastic Surgery, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India

Date of Submission23-Nov-2020
Date of Acceptance24-Nov-2020
Date of Web Publication13-Jan-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ramesh K Sharma
Department of Plastic Surgery, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh - 160 012
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jclpca.jclpca_41_20

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How to cite this article:
Sharma RK. IT Jackson: End of an era. J Cleft Lip Palate Craniofac Anomal 2021;8:3-5

How to cite this URL:
Sharma RK. IT Jackson: End of an era. J Cleft Lip Palate Craniofac Anomal [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Jun 18];8:3-5. Available from: https://www.jclpca.org/text.asp?2021/8/1/3/306778

IPRAS 1987 in New Delhi was arguably the first major international Plastic Surgery event held in India. Moreover, the man who stole the thunder with his outstanding presentations on various aspects of craniofacial surgery was Ian T. Jackson. This heralded a fruitful association between I T Jackson and Indian Plastic Surgery fraternity. This special relation has continued right up to his demise on August 02, 2020.

This world-famous Scottish Plastic Surgeon moved to the United States of America in 1979 after firmly establishing himself at the Canniesburn Hospital in Glasgow. He had a special interest in the congenital and acquired craniofacial deformities. These accomplishments in this highly specialized field were not merely reflective of a surgical prowess, but were also an expression of an intense empathy toward the deformed children. When it became clear that in order to help a badly deformed boy from the far away Peru, nothing short of adopting the child into his family would work, he did the unthinkable. His wife Marjorie had to scout in the jungles of Amazon to look for the child's biological parents to legally adopt the child. This remarkable story is so well documented in a British broadcasting corporation (BBC) film, “The Boy David Story.”

Dr. Jackson was a constant visitor to India. He conducted innumerable workshops, delivered lectures, and performed live surgeries. The Indian plastic surgery scenario simply got transformed by such innumerable interactions with this brilliant surgeon and extraordinary human being. His work sparked interest in hitherto unexplored areas and inspired young plastic surgeons. Countless numbers of Indian Plastic surgeons made a beeline to his hospital at Southfield in the USA to get insight into the latest in Plastic Surgery. He welcomed visitors from India and took great trouble to make their visits fruitful.

As a young lecturer in Plastic Surgery in 1987 in the Department of Plastic Surgery at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, I was mesmerized by the surgical teachings and operative techniques of Dr. Jackson and harbored a wish to visit and learn from him. This desire was fulfilled when I was selected for a 1 year WHO fellowship in Craniofacial Surgery under his tutelage in 1993. He was an indefatigable worker starting his day early morning at 5.30 am and work through the day until past midnight. His bedside manners and demeanors were immaculate. Inside the operating room, he was a master craftsman and would be in complete control of the situation. He was a great teacher and would explain and demonstrate the essential operative steps to the trainees. His love for India was legendary and he was largely instrumental in firmly establishing Craniofacial Surgery as a subspecialty in this country. With his blessing and encouragement, we did our first case of fronto-orbital advancement at postgraduate institute of medical education and research (PGIMER) in 1995. In a quarter-century since, we have successfully performed more than 2000 craniofacial surgeries in our unit. He was a regular visitor to our department on his numerous trips to India and was happy with the progress made in the establishment of craniofacial surgery at the institute [Figure 1] and [Figure 2].
Figure 1: Dr. Jackson with the faculty and residents of the Department of Plastic Surgery in 1996 at Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh

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Figure 2: Welcoming Dr. Jackson in the meeting of Indian Society of Cleft Lip, Palate and Craniofacial anomalies in 2007

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Dr. Jackson was a great teacher and researcher. He published many books, contributed to innumerable chapters and had over 400 publications in peer reviewed Journals. He was the Editor in Chief of many journals including European Journal of Plastic Surgery for nearly three decades. Ian had numerous awards and honors to his credit, the notable ones include:

  • 1992: The Clinician of the Year of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons
  • 1993: Senior Visiting Professor, Plastic Surgery Educational Foundation in 1993
  • 1996: Sir Harold Gillies Gold Medal by the British Association of Plastic Surgeons
  • 1998: The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh Medal
  • 1999: Honorary Award by the American Association of Plastic Surgeons.

He was an honorary member of seventeen foreign scientific societies including the Association of Plastic surgeons of India, Association of Surgeons of India, and Indian Society of Cleft Lip, Palate and Craniofacial Anomalies. The Association of Plastic Surgeons of India have instituted an award called “PGIMER IT Jackson Cleft and Craniofacial Award” given every year to encourage the surgeons who are doing exemplary work in this field. A complete session is devoted to the memory of Dr. Ian Jackson during the annual meeting of the Association of Plastic Surgeons of India. This is our humble tribute to this wonderful multifaceted personality.

He was not only a great plastic surgeon and an inquisitive researcher but also an extraordinary human being and an amazingly effective motivator. Dr. Jackson truly dedicated his life to advancing plastic surgery, helping people with facial deformities and clefts, educating three generations and hundreds of plastic surgeons across the world.

He was known around the world for his charitable work. Dr. Jackson was also deeply involved in international medical volunteer work and served as founding Honorary Chairman of the Smile Train, an international charitable organization that provides free corrective cleft surgery for children in 87 countries, trains overseas surgeons in cranio-facial surgery, and provides hospital funding for the procedures. He was a major force in guiding the initial years of the Smile Train Inc. He had requested that there should not be any services after his death and asked that any donations should go to the “Smile Train.”

The last couple of years had been tough for the great old man. Marjorie, his better half was a constant companion by his side throughout. We were in constant touch with her all through this tough time. The August 2, 2020, the day he left us will always be simultaneously sad and memorable for me as it also happens to be my birthday. Ian is survived by his loving wife, his three daughters, two sons, and grandchildren.

He was a man who walked the talk – one who preached what he practiced.

Such great persons never die; they continue to live and spread happiness through their good work. His innumerable students and admirers would ensure that his legacy continues.

“It may be that I shall find it good to get outside of my body – to cast it off like a disused garment. But, I shall not cease to work! I shall inspire men everywhere?.”

Swami Vivekananda.


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]


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