Famous 20th Century Surgeons

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 
Ben Carson
(U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development (2017 – 2021))

Ben Carson
10
Birthdate: September 18, 1951
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, U.S.

Neurosurgeon Ben Carson is credited with many pioneering neurosurgical procedures. He became a Library of Congress “Living Legend” and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He later contested in the 2016 presidential primaries, has authored numerous books, was a Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and earned 60 honorary doctorates.

 2 
Paul Nassif
(Plastic surgeon)

Paul Nassif
6
Birthdate: June 6, 1962
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, U.S.

American plastic surgeon and television personality Paul Sabin Nassif is best known for specialising in rhinoplasty and for co-hosting the plastic surgery-themed American reality television series Botched and its spin-off series Botched by Nature with another plastic surgeon Terry Dubrow. Nassif owns the skincare line Nassif MD Dermaceuticals and is a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

 3 
Sanjay Gupta
(Neurosurgeon and Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN)

Sanjay Gupta
8
Birthdate: October 23, 1969
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Novi, Michigan, United States

Born to Indian-origin parents in the U.S., Sanjay Gupta is an acclaimed neurosurgeon and medical writer. He has also had a successful stint as a medical reporter for CNN, covering medical issues at wars and disasters. He has played himself in the movie Contagion and is a skilled accordion player.

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 4 
Michelle Bachelet
(32nd and 34th President of Chile)

Michelle Bachelet
6
Birthdate: September 29, 1951
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Santiago, Chile

 5 
Christiaan Barnard
(Cardiac Surgeon)

Christiaan Barnard
4
Birthdate: November 8, 1922
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Beaufort West, South Africa
Died: September 2, 2001
Born to a preacher father of modest means, Christiaan Barnard completed his medical school on scholarships. In December 1967, he revolutionized medical science by performing the first human heart transplant by transplanting 25-year-old accident victim Denise Darvall’s heart into 53-year-old chronic heart patient grocer Louis Washkansky.

 6 
Charles R. Drew
(Physician & Surgeon)

Charles R. Drew
4
Birthdate: June 3, 1904
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Died: April 1, 1950

Born into a middle-class African-American family, Charles R. Drew initially excelled in football and track and field, and ended up earning athletic scholarships to fund his studies. He grew up to be a renowned surgeon and revolutionized the storage of blood plasma in blood banks.

 7 
Joseph Lister
(British Medical Scientist and a Pioneer in the Field of Antiseptic Medicine and Surgery)

Joseph Lister
4
Birthdate: April 5, 1827
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Upton House, West Ham, England
Died: February 10, 1912

British surgeon Joseph Lister was a pioneer of antiseptic medicine usage and made a huge contribution to the development of preventive medicine for bacterial infection. His achievements have been honored by many, such as the makers of Listerine antiseptic and mouthwash, who named their product after him.

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 8 
René Gerónimo Favaloro
(Cardiovascular Surgeon)

René Gerónimo Favaloro
4
Birthdate: July 12, 1923
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: La Plata, Argentina
Died: July 29, 2000

René Gerónimo Favaloro was an Argentine educator and cardiac surgeon. He is best remembered for his work on coronary artery bypass surgery. Favaloro is credited with establishing the Favaloro Foundation in an attempt to emulate Cleveland Clinic. He is also credited with founding the Basic Investigation Laboratory, which was financed with his own money.

 9 
Vivien Thomas
(Surgeon)

Vivien Thomas
6
Birthdate: August 29, 1910
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New Iberia, Louisiana, United States
Died: November 26, 1985

Vivien Theodore Thomas was laboratory supervisor who never went to college; yet he rose above poverty and racism to develop a procedure for treating cyanotic heart disease. Initially billed as janitor, he began his career as assistant to surgeon Alfred Blalock first at Nashville University and later at Johns Hopkins, and in time discovered the life-saving technique, eventually becoming a teacher of operative techniques.

 10 
Magdi Yacoub
(Heart Surgeon)

Magdi Yacoub
3
Birthdate: November 16, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Belbin, Ashraqya, Egypt

Magdi Yacoub is a retired professor who worked at Imperial College London. He is best known for his work in repairing heart valves, a procedure which came to be known as the Ross-Yacoub procedure. In 1983, he performed the United Kingdom's first combined lung and heart transplant. Also a humanitarian, Yacoub co-founded the Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Foundation in 2008.

 11 
Younan Nowzaradan
(Specializes in vascular surgery and bariatric surgery.)

Younan Nowzaradan
2
Birthdate: October 11, 1944
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tehran, Pahlavi Iran Imperial State of Iran

 12 

C. Everett Koop
6
Birthdate: October 14, 1916
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: February 25, 2013

C. Everett Koop was a pediatric surgeon and public health administrator who served as the 13th Surgeon General of the United States under President Ronald Reagan. Previously, he had been a vice admiral in the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. He was well-known for his support of the rights of children with disabilities and his work with AIDS patients. 

 13 
Hasnat Khan
(Heart & Lung Surgeon widely known for his Romantic Relationship with Diana, Princess of Wales from 1995 to 1997)

Hasnat Khan
4
Birthdate: April 1, 1958
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Jhelum, Punjab, Pakistan

Better known as former lover of Princess Diana, British-Pakistani cardiac surgeon Hasnat Khan was once described by the late princess as “Mr Wonderful.” He had first met Diana at the Royal Brompton Hospital, where the princess had gone to visit a friend. Hasnat is a distant relative of Imran Khan.

 14 
Leonid Rogozov
(Physician)

Leonid Rogozov
5
Birthdate: March 14, 1934
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Chita, Russia
Died: September 21, 2000

Leonid Rogozov was a Soviet general practitioner remembered for performing his own appendectomy as he developed appendicitis while stationed at Novolazarevskaya Station; he was part of the sixth Soviet Antarctic Expedition in 1961 when he developed appendicitis. The self-surgery, which was documented by Rogozov’s colleagues, resulted in a change of policy and health checks were made mandatory during such expeditions.

 15 
Denton Cooley
(Heart Surgeon)

Denton Cooley
3
Birthdate: August 22, 1920
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Houston, Texas, United States
Died: November 18, 2016

Denton Cooley was a heart and cardiothoracic surgeon. He is best known for performing the first implantation of a total artificial heart. He did his surgical training at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and later worked at Baylor College of Medicine. He founded The Texas Heart Institute and was a consultant at Texas Children's Hospital. 

 16 

Daniel Hale Williams
3
Birthdate: January 18, 1856
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: August 4, 1931

Daniel Hale Williams was a general surgeon known for performing the first documented, successful pericardium surgery in the US in 1893. Born to interracial parents, he faced numerous struggles in his journey to become a physician. He later founded the first non-segregated hospital in the United States, Chicago's Provident Hospital. He also founded a nursing school for African Americans. 

 17 
Jan Adams
(Physician)

Jan Adams
5
Birthdate: April 21, 1954
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Middletown

Cosmetic surgeon and TV personality Jan Adams made headlines after he conducted a liposuction, a tummy tuck, and a breast-reduction surgery on rapper Kanye West’s mother and she mysteriously died the following day. He has also penned books and appeared on shows such as Extra and The Other Half.

 18 
Vladimir Demikhov
(Organ Transplant Pioneer)

Vladimir Demikhov
3
Birthdate: July 18, 1916
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: November 22, 1998
While some called him a mad scientist, Vladimir Demikhov is now remembered as a pioneer of organ transplantation. The Soviet scientist coined the term transplantology and shocked the world by creating two-headed dogs, by attaching the head of one dog to the body of another. 

 19 
William Chester Minor
(Former Surgeon known for Contributions to the Oxford English Dictionary)

William Chester Minor
6
Birthdate: June 22, 1834
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sri Lanka
Died: March 26, 1920

William Chester Minor was an army surgeon and lexicographical researcher. He studied at Yale Medical School and earned a medical degree with a specialization in comparative anatomy. He then became an army surgeon. He was later committed to a London psychiatric hospital for many years as he suffered from paranoid delusions. He became a lexicographical researcher while incarcerated.  

 20 
John McCrae
(Poet and Soldier Best Known as the Author of War Memorial Poem 'In Flanders Fields')

John McCrae
8
Birthdate: November 30, 1872
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Died: January 28, 1918

Best known for his iconic war poems such as In Flanders Fields, Canadian poet John McCrae was also an army physician. He was the first Canadian to serve as a consulting surgeon for the British Army and had earned the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Army.

 21 
Robert Rey
(Plastic surgeon)

Robert Rey
5
Birthdate: October 1, 1961
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: São Paulo, Brazil

Brazilian American plastic-surgeon and television-presenter Roberto Rey featured on the American reality television series Dr. 90210 that focusses on plastic surgery in the affluent suburb of Beverly Hills, California. He is a member of the American Medical Association and the Los Angeles Medical Association. He unsuccessfully ran for a seat in Brazil's Chamber of Deputies during the 2014 Brazilian general election.

 22 
Michael DeBakey
(Cardiac Surgeon)

Michael DeBakey
5
Birthdate: September 7, 1908
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States
Died: July 11, 2008

Cardiac surgeon Michael DeBakey pioneered many treatments of cardiovascular ailments and also invented instruments such as the roller pump, later used for open-heart surgery procedures. He was also instrumental in developing MASH units and was awarded several prestigious awards, such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

 23 
Bassem Youssef
(Comedian)

Bassem Youssef
5
Birthdate: March 22, 1974
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cairo, Egypt

 24 
Victor Chang
(Surgeon)

Victor Chang
5
Birthdate: November 21, 1936
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Shanghai
Died: July 4, 1991

Born to Australian-born Chinese parents in Shanghai, cardiac surgeon Victor Chang grew up in Hong Kong, Myanmar, and Sichuan, in the aftermath of the Second Sino-Japanese War. His mother’s death from breast cancer made him study medicine. The pioneer of heart transplantation, Chang was killed in an extortion attempt.

 25 
James Andrews
(surgeon)

James Andrews
5
Birthdate: 1942 AD
Birthplace: Homer

One of the best-known American orthopedic sports surgeons, James Andrews has been associated with multiple sports teams, such as Alabama Crimson Tide and the Tampa Bay Rays. Among his clients are sports stars Michael Jordan and Tom Brady. He has also headed various organizations, such as the American Sports Medicine Institute.

 26 
Walter Jackson Freeman II
(American physician)

Walter Jackson Freeman II
3
Birthdate: November 14, 1895
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: May 31, 1972

American neurologist Walter Jackson Freeman II is remembered for co-developing the technique of prefrontal lobotomy as a treatment for mental ailments, along with neurosurgeon James W. Watts. Though many of his patients died due to the treatment, he is still considered a pioneer in the field of neurosurgery.

 27 
Werner Forssmann
(Military physician, Surgeon, Urologist, Cardiologist)

Werner Forssmann
5
Birthdate: August 29, 1904
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Berlin
Died: June 1, 1979

German physician Werner Forssmann is best-known for developing a method that allowed cardiac catheterization. This led him to jointly receive the 1956 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Forssmann started clinical application of cardiac catheterization in 1929, when he inserted a catheter into a vein of his forearm and safely passed it into his heart and took an X-ray picture of it.

 28 
Devi Shetty
(Surgeon)

Devi Shetty
7
Birthdate: May 8, 1953
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mangalore

Devi Shetty is an Indian cardiac surgeon and entrepreneur. He is best known as the founder of Narayana Health where he also serves as the chairman. Shetty, who has performed over 16,000 heart operations, was honored with the Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian award in 2012. His life and career inspired an episode of Netflix's series The Surgeon's Cut.

 29 
Caldwell Esselstyn
(Nutritionist, Rower)

Caldwell Esselstyn
5
Birthdate: December 12, 1933
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

 30 
Mehmet Oz
(Known Professionally as Dr. Oz)

Mehmet Oz
0
Birthdate: June 11, 1960
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

Born to Turkish immigrants in the U.S., Mehmet Oz, better known as Dr. Oz, is a renowned cardiothoracic surgeon and professor. He is known for his multiple appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and for his YOU series of self-help books. He has also hosted The Dr. Oz Show.

 31 
Garth Fisher
(Presenter)

Garth Fisher
5
Birthdate: September 1, 1958
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mississippi

American plastic surgeon and television presenter Garth Fisher, who specializes in aesthetic/cosmetic plastic surgery of different parts of the body including the face, nose and breast, is best known as the plastic surgeon on ABC aired American reality television series Extreme Makeover. He was knighted Sir Garth Fisher to honour his contributions and feats the field of plastic surgery.

 32 
Ernst-Günther Schenck
(Surgeon, University teacher)

Ernst-Günther Schenck
5
Birthdate: October 3, 1904
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Marburg
Died: December 21, 1998

While serving at the Nazi concentration camps during World War II, doctor Ernst-Günther Schenck created a protein sausage for Nazi troops, which was tested on the camp inmates, leading to many deaths. His experiences were later penned by him in his memoir, which inspired films such as Downfall.

 33 

Alfred Blalock
5
Birthdate: April 5, 1899
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Culloden, Georgia, United States
Died: September 15, 1964

Remembered as a medical pioneer and a much-loved mentor, Alfred Blalock is especially noted for his work on traumatic and hemorrhagic shock, which saved thousands of lives during WWII. Working with Vivien Thomas and Helen Taussig, he also developed the Blalock-Thomas-Taussig shunt. Designed to treat children with Blue Baby Syndrome, it ushered a revolution in the field of cardiac surgery.

 34 
Antonia Novello
(Former Surgeon General)

Antonia Novello
5
Birthdate: August 23, 1944
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Antonia Novello became the first female and the first person of Hispanic origin to become the U.S. surgeon general. Initially a pediatric nephrologist, she later switched to Public Health Service, after realizing she was too emotional to be a pediatrician. The Puerto Rican physician was also a UNICEF representative.

 35 
Russell M. Nelson
(Religious Leader, Surgeon)

Russell M. Nelson
6
Birthdate: September 9, 1924
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Salt Lake City, Utah, United States

Russell M. Nelson is an American religious leader and the current president of the Mormon Church. A former surgeon, Nelson is credited with co-developing the heart-lung machine, which was used in the first-ever open-heart surgery. He became a respected heart surgeon and went on to serve as the president of the Utah Medical Association before becoming a religious leader.

 36 
Zbigniew Religa
(Surgeon, Physician, University teacher)

Zbigniew Religa
5
Birthdate: December 16, 1938
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Miedniewice, Masovian Voivodeship
Died: March 8, 2009

 37 
Andrew Baldwin
(Reality star, naval officer and athlete most famous as the star of the reality show "The Bachelor: Officer and a Gentleman.")

Andrew Baldwin
5
Birthdate: February 5, 1977
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States

Although best known for his appearances on the ABC reality dating show The Bachelor, Andrew James Baldwin is much more than just a television personality. A Medical Officer with US Navy, he is known for his humanitarian works and enthusiasm for triathlon, being named to the All-Navy triathlon team five times, besides competing internationally in numerous Half-Ironman and Ironman events.

 38 
Sid Watkins
(Neurologist, Surgeon, Neurosurgeon, Physician)

Sid Watkins
5
Birthdate: September 6, 1928
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Liverpool
Died: September 12, 2012

Eric Sidney Watkins or Professor Sid, as he was known within the Formula One fraternity, wanted to become a doctor since his childhood. An experienced neurosurgeon and academician, he later became Formula One's trackside consultant and safety adviser. He concentrated on creating sophisticated medical back-up necessary for providing timely treatment, thus saving many lives through prompt actions.

 39 
Ludwig Stumpfegger
(Military physician, Physician, Surgeon, Torturer)

Ludwig Stumpfegger
5
Birthdate: July 11, 1910
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Munich
Died: May 2, 1945

Nazi doctor Ludwig Stumpfegger was better known as Adolf Hitler's personal surgeon. He not only conducted gruesome experiments on female inmates of the concentration camps, but also helped kill Hitler’s dog and Magda Goebbels’s children in Hitler’s bunker, before he escaped and eventually committed suicide by consuming cyanide.

 40 
Naresh Trehan
(Surgeon)

Naresh Trehan
5
Birthdate: August 12, 1946
Sun Sign: Leo

Naresh Trehan is an Indian cardiothoracic and cardiovascular surgeon. Since 1991, Trehan has been serving as the personal surgeon of the President of India. Over the course of his illustrious career, Naresh Trehan has been honored with several prestigious awards, such as the Bidhan Chandra Roy Award, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award, and Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian honor.

 41 
Jayant Patel
(Accused of gross negligence whilst working at Bundaberg Base Hospital in Queensland, Australia)

Jayant Patel
2
Birthdate: April 10, 1950
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Jamnagar, Gujarat, India

Indian-origin American surgeon Jayant Patel had a career chequered with medical negligence. After his medical license was restricted in the US, following a few cases of patient deaths, he was convicted for killing 3 patients at the Bundaberg Hospital in Australia and was banned from practicing in the country again.

 42 
Hamilton Naki
(Medical technician)

Hamilton Naki
5
Birthdate: June 26, 1926
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Ngcangane, South Africa
Died: May 29, 2005

Hamilton Naki was a laboratory assistant who worked alongside cardiac surgeon Christiaan Barnard in South Africa.  Despite not having a formal medical education, he was known for his dexterity with surgical equipment and his ability to teach medical students. Some sources claim he participated in the world's first human-to-human heart transplantation in 1967. 

 43 
Jacques Rogge
(8th President of the International Olympic)

Jacques Rogge
5
Birthdate: May 2, 1942
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ghent, Belgium
Died: August 29, 2021
A professional orthopaedic surgeon, Jacques Rogge gained fame as an able sports administrator and as the president of the International Olympic Committee. A multi-talented athlete, he had been a Belgian rugby champion 16 times. He had also been a yachting world champion and a 3-time Olympian in sailing.

 44 
Marci Bowers
(Gynaecologist)

Marci Bowers
3
Birthdate: January 18, 1958
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: United States of America

Considered to be the first transgender to specialize in sex reassignment surgery, American gynecologist Marci Lee Bowers is also a specialist in functional clitoral restoration. Beginning her career in obstetrics and gynecology, she later apprenticed under Stanley Biber, the father of sex reassignment surgery, and Pierre Foldès, a pioneer in clitoral restoration, before setting up her independent practice in California.   

 45 
Niall MacGinnis
(Film actor)

Niall MacGinnis
3
Birthdate: March 29, 1913
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dublin, County Dublin, History of Ireland (1801–1923) Ireland
Died: January 6, 1977

 46 
Thomas Starzl
(Physician, researcher, and expert on organ transplants)

Thomas Starzl
2
Birthdate: March 11, 1926
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Le Mars, Iowa, United States
Died: March 4, 2017

Thomas Starzl, the pioneer of the liver transplant surgery, initially wished to become a priest but deviated to medicine after the death of his mother from breast cancer. He is also known for his bestselling memoir, The Puzzle People, and for the documentary Burden of Genius, which was inspired by him.

 47 
Edward Dunlop
(Surgeon, Prisoner of War)

Edward Dunlop
2
Birthdate: July 12, 1907
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wangaratta, Australia
Died: July 2, 1993

Edward Dunlop was an Australian surgeon who was held prisoner by Japanese soldiers during the Second World War. After becoming a prisoner of war, Dunlop flaunted his leadership skills, for which he is remembered today. In 1988, he was included in the 200 Great Australians list.

 48 
Grethe Rask
(Physician)

Grethe Rask
2
Birthdate: 1930 AD
Birthplace: Thisted, Denmark
Died: December 12, 1977

 49 
Fiona Wood
(Plastic Surgeon)

Fiona Wood
2
Birthdate: February 2, 1958
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Yorkshire, England

English-Australian plastic surgeon Fiona Wood pioneered the spray-on skin method of treating burn victims. Before stepping into a medical career, she had aspired to be sprinter. She later became the first woman from Western Australia to become a plastic surgeon. She was named the 2005 Australian of the Year.

 50 
Charlie Teo
(Neurosurgery)

Charlie Teo
0
Birthdate: December 24, 1957
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia

One of Australia’s best-known brain surgeons, Charlie Teo has been known for conducting operations that other surgeons would avoid for being too risky. Known for his excessively high fees, which have prompted patients to crowdfund operations, he later faced restrictions imposed by the Medical Council of NSW.