1. Durante F. Contribution to
endocranial surgery. The Lancet.
2. Alessandri R. Surgical intervention in
tuberculosis of the meninges and of
the brain. Ann Surg. 1906; 43( 3):161-165.
3. Skinner DB, Belsey R. Management of
Esophageal Disease. Philadelphia: WB
Saunders Co; 1988.
4. Stipa S, Belsey R, Moraldi A. Medical
and Surgical Problems of the Esophagus.
New York: Academic Press; 1981.
Rabbi Elio Toaff (right)
hosting John Paul II (center)
in the Great Synagogue of
He took the place of Robert
J. Shaw, MD, FACS. Dr. Shaw
enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1941
and served as chief of thoracic
surgery at the Frenchay Hospital.
Dr. Shaw later moved to the
American Hospital of Paris,
and Dr. Belsey succeeded him.
After World War II, Dr. Shaw
returned to the U.S., settling in
Dallas, TX, where he established
with Donald Paulson, MD, PhD,
FACS, the largest and most
important center for thoracic
surgery in the world at Baylor
University. Interestingly, during
World War II, Dr. Churchill was
the chief surgical consultant
for the European and North
African surgical theaters,
and Michael DeBakey, MD,
FACS, was his assistant for
communicating with the
surgeon general, Fred Rankin,
MD, FACS, in Washington, DC.
Dr. Belsey continued a
close collaboration with U.S.
thoracic surgeons and operated
several times in our hospital.
The friendship between
Drs. Skinner, Belsey, and Stipa
was enduring. 4 Dr. Belsey loved
to go hunting and fishing, so
he made many friends in Rome
outside the field of surgery.
Dr. Stipa became a well-known
esophageal surgeon. Dr. Stipa,
assisted by two co-authors of this
column, operated on Elio Toaff,
head Rabbi of the Italian-Jewish
community, performing an
Ivory-Lewis esophagectomy for
cancer of the middle esophagus,
a procedure he learned from
Dr. Belsey. A few years after
the operation, Rabbi Toaff
would lead a historical step in
the brotherhood between the
Roman Catholic Church and
the Italian-Jewish community,
meeting Pope John Paul II in the
Great Synagogue of Rome. Rabbi
Toaff survived the operation for
almost 40 years in good general
condition, dying two years
ago at the age of 100. For this
reason, several Jewish residents
have trained alongside several
surgeons from Palestine.
The international exchange
of surgical knowledge and skills
has led to a number of important
advances in resident training and
patient care. This column has
underscored the role of Italian
surgeons in this movement, and
the authors are committed to
ensuring its continued growth. ♦