Dr George Berci, of Hungarian descent, a Holocaust survivor and a pioneer of surgical technique, is still in the office every day. LA Times wrote a long article about him.
Berci starts work at 7 a.m. and has busy days. He is in the office in person twice a week and works from home the rest of the days, answering queries from other doctors and checking in with colleagues around the world.
Berci seems to be fit, it does not look like he is older than 100 years, though, to be completely honest, he is a little less happy these days because of the war in Ukraine. He hopes the situation will improve, says Berci, who could also tell the story of the German and Russian dictators himself.
Berci was born in Hungary. In 1942, he was forced into a labour camp and endured the misery of gruelling manual labour while nearly starving to death. Two years later, during the Allies’ bombardment of Budapest, Berci managed to escape. Berci went to work in the Hungarian underground, risking his life in an operation that created and delivered fake IDs to Jews in hiding.
He made surgery his speciality and was working at a Budapest hospital in 1956 when Russian forces crushed an anti-Communist uprising, killing thousands. Bloodied victims arrived by the hundreds at the hospital, and when the drama subsided, Berci began plotting a course out of Europe. He first moved to Australia, then to the United States.
“There is no doubt that his ideas and his work have changed the face of surgery,” Dr L. Michael Brunt said in 2013 after producing a documentary on Berci’s life and career. The Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons now has a lifetime achievement award in Berci’s name, even as Berci adds to his own achievements.
Before, a surgeon carved into the body. But with new sets of tools, the work is less invasive and is performed through small incisions or orifices. Berci had studied mechanical engineering as a young man and helped develop the tiny camera used in these procedures, allowing surgeons a clear view inside the body as they work.
Berci has written dozens of books and scientific papers on all of this. He said about his latest book about the history of biliary surgery — No Stones Left Unturned, co-authored by Dr Frederick Greene — that it was a labour of love that involved years of research.
Berci gets up at 5:30 in the morning. If he does not go for a walk, he goes to the gym. He pays attention to what he eats and follows the performance of the Los Angeles Lakers. He is 101 years old but works with the same attitude as a young man. LA times asked him if he had any plans to retire yet. He replied that he had no such plans.
Source: LA Times