Doctor Josep Trueta

Celebrated Catalan War Surgeon

Josep Trueta i Raspall was born on October 27th 1897 at number 236 Carrer Wad-Ras in the Poblenou neighbourhood of Barcelona.

He had wanted to be an artist but his father Rafael, who was a doctor, persuaded him to study medicine at the University of Barcelona, where he qualified in 1921 before going to Madrid to do his doctorate.

On his return, he worked with Doctor Manuel Corachan at the Hospital General de Catalunya and soon became interested in traumatology, specialising in limb surgery.

During the 1920s, he developed a revolutionary method for operating on limbs, which is now known as the Trueta Method, and by 1935, Doctor Trueta was head surgeon at the Hospital General de Catalunya.

The Trueta Method was extensively used throughout the Spanish Civil War with thousands of wounded being saved from gangrene as a result and Trueta's treatise on the treatment of war wounds , which was published by the Generalitat of Catalonia, was translated into English, French and Spanish.

At the end of 1939, following the Republican defeat to Franco, was given the chance to give some talks on war surgery in London by the British Foreign Office and the Minister of Health offered Trueta the position of Minister of War Wounds as part of the war effort.

During the 1940s, now as Professor at Oxford University, Trueta perfected his method by adding the factor of renal failure and it was successfully applied throughout World War II and again in Korea and Vietnam, even after the advent of antibiotics.

From 1940 onwards, Josep Trueta formed part of the National Council of Catalonia constituted in exile in London and in 1941 he wrote The Spirit of Catalonia in order to explain the situation in Catalonia to the English-speaking world.

After retiring from the University of Oxford, where he had established the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre as one of the most prestigious bone research centres in the world, Trueta returned to Catalonia in 1966.

Josep Trueta i Raspall died on January 20th 1977 following a decade of receiving innumerable awards and acolades.

He is buried along with his wife in the cemetery of Santa Cristina d'Aro and hundreds of streets around Catalonia as well as Fundació Humanitària Dr.Josep Trueta and the University Hospital of Girona, carry his name.


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