Prasad M*, Venkatesh S**.
(*Assistant Professor, **Professor and Head of Department, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vydehi Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Whitefield, Bengaluru, India.)
Grigoris Lambrakis (3rd April 1912 – 27th May 1963) was an eminent Greek obstetrician-gynecologist. However, he appeared to have become more famous for his involvement in politics than his other notable achievements in many fields.
He was also an athlete, and held the national record for the long jump competition for 23 long years, even after he had stopped active participation in athletic competitions. In the peak of his athletic participations, he won several gold medals in the Balkan athletic games.
He was educated in medicine in Athens, Berne and Munich and having served under the mentorship of Ernst Sauerbrunch, he gained surgical dexterity which was far superior than his gynecologist peers. The gynecological fraternity of Greece had fondly called him ‘artist with a scalpel’.
He became a lecturer in the public maternity hospital by the age of 38, which was an achievement in itself. As he gained public acceptance, he ran many small private clinics for the downtrodden and was praised widely for the same.
Part of his medical education consisted of tutoring under some eminent endocrinologists of their time, and hence Lambrakis forayed into gynecological endocrinology, an otherwise untouched subject in those times. His doctoral research was on relationship between changes in potassium, calcium and glucose during labour and its correlation with uterine inertia. Though he became a pioneer in the field of gynecological endocrinology in Greece, it was beset by problems. His attempt to open a branch of a Germany based clinic specialised in research in endocrinology, in Greece led to some controversies. By 1949, he had published a book titled ‘Diabetes and Pregnancy’.
During the second world war, he was drawn into activism and politics, and had organised many events as a part of the Greek resistance to the war. Due to his political leanings, he was identified as a ‘pacifist’, one who astutely opposed to war or violence in any form. Despite his political activism, he always made time to see patients and continued to oversee activities of his clinics. Eventually, he became a prominent figure in Greek politics, and was unfortunately assassinated by political rivals. His popularity as a public figure was revealed upon his death, when large protests broke out, and large scale changes in the political leadership of the country followed.
He left behind a rich legacy and recently even a documentary film was made on him titled ‘Marathon of an unfinished spring- G Lambrakis’.
To summarize, Grigoris Lambrakis was an all-rounder and positively impacted his country. His life gives us the inspiration that we gynecologists have the power to make the world a better place to be in.
- Grigoris Lambrakis. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grigoris_Lambrakis
- Gkegkes ID, Karamanou M, Iavazzo PE, Gkegke XE, Androutsos G, Iavazzo C. Grigoris Lambrakis (1912-1963) - a Greek obstetrician and world renowned activist. Acta Med Hist Adriat. 2016 Aug;14(1):177-84.
- Gkotzaridis. A Pacifist's Life and Death: Grigorios Lambrakis and Greece in the Long Shadow of Civil War. Newcastle upon Tyne. Cambridge Scholars publishing; 2016
- London Greek Film festival 2014. Available from: http://www.londongreekfilmfestival.com/lgff2014filminfo/MarathonofanunfinishedspringGrigorisLambrakis.htm
Prasad M, Venkatesh S. Remembering Past Greats: Grigoris Lambrakis. JPGO 2019.Volume 6. No.4. Available from: https://www.jpgo.org/2019/04/remembering-past-greats-grigoris.html