THE GREAT NAMES OF THE FRENCH CANADIAN COMMUNITY

THE CANADIAN FRENCH-SPEAKING WORLD and some of the people who have contributed to its greatness

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Medicine

Lucille Teasdale

Date of birth:
1929

Place of birth:
Montreal

QuebecProvince:
Quebec

Callings:
Surgeon and international aid worker

 


Photo : Louise Leblanc 1995 - Cérémonie de remise des insignes de l'Ordre national du Québec

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

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At a very young age, Lucille Teasdale became aware of social inequality. She grew up in Montreal East, but as a boarding student attended one of the most exclusive Catholic colleges: the Collège Jésus-Marie d'Outrement. She did volunteer work in a clinic attended by the disadvantaged of the Plateau Mont-Royal and there she acquired a conviction that she could do something against the worst injustice: disease. In 1940, she was accepted at medical school at the Université de Montréal and, in 1955, became the first Quebec woman to obtain her diploma as a surgeon. She interned and did her residency at the hospitals of Sainte-Justine, Maisonneuve and l'Hôtel-Dieu. It was at Sainte-Justine that she met her future husband, Pietro Corti, a specialist in pediatrics, who was interning in Montreal. From a well-to-do Italian family, Dr. Corti was looking for new challenges and saw service in Africa as a way to leave his mark. To finish her training, Lucille Teasdale had to receive training abroad. After being turned down by American hospitals, because she was a woman, she went to in Marseille. Dr. Corti joined her and, after several meetings, she agreed to accompany him to Uganda. This was the beginning of an adventure that was to last 35 years.

In 1961, she set up a practice in Gulu, a British protectorate in Northern Uganda. She and her husband founded St. Mary's-Lacor Hospital. During those years, she performed more than 13,000 surgeries, while her husband, in addition to working as an anesthesiologist, administered the hospital and helped train dozens of young doctors. The couple devoted their lives to caring for such contagious diseases as malaria and AIDS. They worked in very difficult conditions -- civil war, epidemics and massacres -- and with limited means. She operated in unbelievable conditions and contracted AIDS in the course of performing an operation. She had wanted to save the life of a wounded Ugandan soldier afflicted with this terrible disease. The state of her health towards the end of her career precluded her from performing surgery, so she devoted herself to caring for patients with AIDS and out-patients.

Lucille Teasdale was a member of the Order of Canada. With her husband, she was awarded the Saskawa Prize in 1986, the most prestigious distinction awarded by the World Health Organization. She was an officer of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy and the winner of numerous awards in Europe. She died of AIDS on August 1, 1996. Dr. Teasdale devoted her life to caring for the destitute.

 

 

 

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THE GREAT NAMES OF THE FRENCH CANADIAN COMMUNITY