Harold Gillies

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Harold Gillies

Harold Gillies (1882-1960) is widely considered as the father of modern plastic surgery. He carried out the first gender reassignment surgery in Britain.

During World War Two Gillies acted as a consultant to the Ministry of Health, the RAF and the Admiralty. He organised plastic surgery units in various parts of Britain and inspired colleagues to do the same. His own work continued at Rooksdown House, part of the Park Prewett Hospital, Basingstoke[1].

Instead of retiring at the end of the Second World War Gillies had to keep working as he had insufficient savings.

In 1946, he and a colleague carried out one of the first sex reassignment surgeries from female to male on Michael Dillon [2]. In 1951 he and colleagues carried out one of the first male to female sex reassignment surgery operations, using a flap technique, on Roberta Cowell.
  1. The site of Park Prewett is largely now private housing. In 2020 a Gillies Meadow housing development was being built
  2. treatment and surgery on Dillon was spread over ten years