THE pioneering work of New Zealand plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe with badly disfigured wartime pilots has inspired a play that has gone on stage in England 70 years later.
The Guinea Pig Club has been written by Susan Watkins, biographer of Formula One boss Bernie Eccestone and widow of F1 chief medical officer Sid Watkins.
Former world champion driver Sir Jackie Stewart was among FI drivers and Royal Air Force veterans who attended a special performance of the play at York’s Theatre Royal last week.
The Hull Daily Mail says the play explores McIndoe’s unorthodox techniques.
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At the East Grinstead hospital in southern England where he was based, McIndoe had a barrel of beer installed so his patients who dubbed themselves “The Guinea Pigs” could have a glass whenever they wanted.
He also encouraged recovering servicemen to go into town to help regain their confidence.
His techniques including using a saline bath for patients after noticing that those whose planes had crashed into the sea did not suffer such severe scarring.
Susan Watkins says McIndoe gave his patients hope and confidence.
“When you meet them they immediately leap up and shake your hand and start chatting to you,” she told the Hull Daily Mail.
“They are so friendly and charming and so full of life.”
In a review of the play, The Observer says Watkins has delivered a great story in deceptively simple and direct style.