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Operating stool

From the Collection of Royal Australasian College of Surgeons 250-290 Spring Street East Melbourne Victoria

The design of the stool is simple and robust. A substantial padded saddle forms the seat, which is adjustable for height. The saddle is upholstered in red leather. The frame is made from tubular steel, painted cream. The whole device runs on three swivelling casters, two at the front and one at the rear, which enable it to be taken in any direction.
Object Registration
Historical information
A special stool made to enable a disabled surgeon to operate while sitting was donated to the College by Mr John Farlow FRACS in September 2003.
The stool was made for Gilbert Phillips FRACS (1904-52), the legendary Sydney neurosurgeon and wine connoisseur. Phillips was a gifted young graduate, a protégé of (Sir) Harold Dew (PRACS 1953-55). He went to England, where he became surgical assistant to (Sir) Hugh Cairns, amongst others. He was a consultant to the RAAF during WWII, and at the end of the War returned to England at Cairns’ request. Back in Sydney, he returned to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where he spent most of his professional career. In 1951, after a long battle with skin cancer, he had his right leg amputated below the knee. Only a few weeks later he was back working at the operating table, and it was at this time the stool was constructed for him. By now however, he was suffering from secondary melanoma, and he died in September 1952.
When Made
circa 1950s
This object is an interesting example of pioneering apparatus from the days before stools became a familiar piece of theatre equipment.
Last updated
1 Apr 2019 at 2:37PM