Professor Ian Jackson, craniofacial and reconstructive surgeon.

Born: December 24, 1934;

Died: August 2, 2020.

PROFESSOR IAN T JACKSON, who has died aged 85 after more than a decade living with Alzheimer’s Disease, had a long and distinguished career in plastic surgery, in which he was known for pushing the boundaries of reconstructive and craniofacial surgery in order to improve the lives of his patients.

They included babies who had been born with cleft lip and palate, and craniofacial deformities; adults with skull base tumours and people who were deformed as a consequence of disease or trauma.

Among his patients – and perhaps the best known to the public at large – was David, a three-year-old Peruvian child who came to Professor Jackson as a patient and who was subsequently adopted into the Jackson family. Professor Jackson won worldwide fame as a result of his remarkable work on the young boy. Their mutual involvement was the subject of a series of award-winning BBC documentaries made by the broadcaster, the late Desmond Wilcox, between 1980 and 1999. In 2003 a film, The Boy David Story, was assembled from these documentaries.

In 1979 Professor Jackson moved with his family from his home in Bearsden to Rochester, Minnesota, where he became Chairman of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the world-famous Mayo Clinic. He moved on to Michigan in 1989 and founded the Craniofacial Institute at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan, in the early nineties.

“The worldwide plastic surgery community is saddened by the loss of Dr Jackson”, said Alan Matarasso, immediate past President of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. “Dr Jackson was widely recognised as a prolific contributor and tireless educator whose talents improved the lives of thousands of patients and advanced the field of plastic surgery”. His oldest and closest friend, Jay Ellenby MD, described him as “a man who did so much for this specialty”.

Ian Jackson was born in Glasgow in 1934. He was educated at Eastbank Academy in Shettleston (where his wife, Marjorie, was also a pupil), and graduated from the University of Glasgow School of Medicine in 1959. Working at the renowned West of Scotland Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery Unit at the city’s Canniesburn Hospital, he became known for his development of new techniques and innovative approaches, advancing cleft lip and cleft palate, and craniofacial and reconstructive surgery, into a new era. He was also responsible for new techniques for the more effective care in patients in both of these fields.

In 1976, while on a working visit to Peru, he learned of the plight of David, a little native Indian boy who had been abandoned in a Peruvian jungle. He was emaciated and suffering from severe facial disfiguration caused by Noma disease. He was found in the jungle by a group of Canadian nuns who took him into the shelter of the organisation Terra des Homes in Lima. Professor Jackson was approached for help and, to cut a long story short, agreed to operate on the child as long as he could be brought back to Scotland. The Glasgow public in many guises rallied round and very soon the first of very many stages of the their most generous funding support was in place to enable surgery to begin.

The painstaking reconstruction work was carried out by Professor Jackson and a colleague, Kharseed Moors, and the story made international headlines. It took more than 80 operations to fully reconstruct the youngster’s face. In time, the Jacksons, who had four children of their own, adopted David as their son.

Desmond Wilcox approached the Jacksons with the idea of making a series of programmes with his colleague, Alex McCall, recounting the story of David and his progress through surgery. The documentaries had a huge impact and the Corporation received thousands of letters praising David’s bravery and Professor Jackson’s skill.

In 1994 Professor Jackson performed a series of a series of operations at the HCI Hospital in Clydebank. He saw a number of his former Glasgow patients, including a concert pianist he had operated on when she was a child.

He received many awards and honorary degrees, including the Sir Harold Gillies Gold Medal from the British Association of Plastic Surgeons in 1996 and, two years later, a medal from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

Ian Jackson loved teaching and was well known for his commitment to training the next generation of plastic and reconstructive surgeons. He was never happier than when he was sitting down surrounded by students and young surgeons.

His bibliography was extensive. He was known around the world for his charitable work. In particular, he loved India and worked tirelessly with his colleagues in many different parts of the country developing plastic and reconstructive surgery programmes. He was Honorary chairman of The Smile Train, an international charity established to train overseas surgeons in cranio-facial surgery.

Ian Jackson is survived by his wife, Marjorie, children Linda, Susan, Sarah, Andrew and David, son-in-law Modathir Bougrine and daughter-in-law Shelley Miller Jackson, and his three grandchildren, Max, Isabel and Morag.