Editor’s note: This article is an edited
version of a previously published
work from the author.* Many of the
details of this article were obtained
via personal correspondence
with Donald C. McIlrath, MD,
FACS, in November 2008.
U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson was 57 years old when
he developed right upper
quadrant abdominal pain
on September 7, 1965. The
White House physician,
George G. Burkley, MD,
suspected gallbladder disease
and confirmed his suspicion
with an oral cholecystogram.
X rays also showed a kidney
stone in the right mid ureter.
George Hallenbeck, MD,
FACS, a noted gastrointestinal
surgeon at the Mayo Clinic,
Rochester, MN, was consulted
and recommended surgery.
Dr. Hallenbeck chose Donald C.
McIlrath, MD, FACS, another
Mayo surgeon, as his assistant.
The surgeons arrived in
Washington, DC, two days before
the operation and met with the
president in the White House.
The operative plan was to take
*Pappas TN, Mulvihill MS. The President’s
gallbladder: A historical account of
the cholecystectomy of Lyndon Baines
Johnson. Surgery. 2010;147( 1):160-166.
FRANKLIN MAR TIN, MD, FACS,
FOUNDER OF THE AMERICAN COLLEGE OF SURGEONS
Politics and the
by Theodore N. Pappas, MD, FACS
FROM THE ARCHIVES
President Johnson showing his scar to reporters