Scientific American™ recently received a manuscript many years in the making.

We have a similar tale to tell.


Left: Hermes Grillo, Right: Surgery of the Trachea and Bronchi


In 1975 Hermes Grillo, from Harvard and MGH, wrote a Dear Sir letter to WB Saunders proposing to write a 200 page monograph on Surgery of the Trachea. Hermes had the most experience with tracheal stenosis, with the possible exception of Perlman in the Soviet Union. As Editor at Saunders I expressed great interest in the prospect, thus beginning my longest editorial journey.

In 1978 I started up BC Decker, and we continued working on the book though years of extraordinary demands on his time. Surgery of the Trachea and Bronchi at last saw the light of published day in 2004 as a 872 page masterwork, summarizing the world’s greatest surgical experience. As the scope grew, a dozen other experts contributed to the writing, but Hermes himself wrote three quarters of the material. Edi Tagrin illustrated the work. She had worked decades with Hermes, in the OR on countless occasions, and she knew the anatomy and surgical perspective intimately.

We celebrated publication at Gioco in Chicago during the ACS Clinical Congress. Hermes ordered a favorite Gavi di Gavi to toast delivery of his baby fully 29 years in gestation. It was only two years later that he died in a collision driving in Ravenna, Italy with his wife Sue.

In addition to SOTB, Hermes edited Current Therapy in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery for Decker, coedited by colleagues Gerry Austen, Doug Mathisen and Gus Vlahakes. Gerry’s son Jay, Chief of Plastic Surgery at MGH today, is a section editor in our forthcoming Scientific American Plastic Surgery.




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Written by Brian C Decker