Vera Gedroits is being honoured by a Google Doodle on the occasion of her 151st birth anniversary, on April 19, 2021. The Russian surgeon and professor, who was also an author and poet, is considered to be Russia’s first female military surgeon apart from being one of the world’s first female professors of surgery. Google thanked Dr. Gedroits for taking the world of medicine forward at a time when odds were stacked against her.
In its note detailing the Vera Gedroits doodle, Google reveals it is only visible in some parts of the world: Russia, India, Greece, Italy, Iceland, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. The Google Doodle shows the first letter ‘O’ being replaced by an X-ray image, and the second ‘O’ being Dr. Gedroits herself, in a surgeon’s attire.
The tech giant also wrote that Dr. Vera Gedroits “saved countless lives through her fearless service and innovation in wartime medicine.” The post also detailed that she volunteered as a surgeon on a Red Cross hospital train during the Russo-Japanese War, which began in 1904. “Under threat of enemy fire, she performed complex abdominal operations in a converted railway car with such unprecedented success that her technique was adopted as the new standard by the Russian government,” Google wrote.
After she served on the battlefield, Vera Gedroits also worked as a surgeon for the Russian royal family before returning to Kiev again. She was hired to teach paediatric surgery at the Kiev Medical Institute in 1921. Dr. Gedroits was appointed professor of surgery at the University of Kiev in 1929.
Born Vera Ignatievna Gedroits in 1870 to a family of royal descent in Ukranian capital Kiev, then a part of the Russian Empire, she left Russia as a teenager to study medicine in Switzerland. She returned home at the turn of the 20th century and began her path-breaking medical career as a surgeon at a factory hospital.
Besides her pioneering work in the field of surgery and during the war, Vera Gedroits also authored numerous medical papers on nutrition and surgical treatments. Interestingly, academic writing was not her only forte. Dr. Gedroits also published multiple collections of poems, and several non-fiction works, including the 1931 memoir simply titled Life. It was the story of her journey that led to the beginning of her service on the front lines in 1904.
Gedroits was diagnosed with cancer in 1931, and passed away in March 1947 at the age of 78. The world thanks Vera Gedroits for her immense contribution to medicine and for being the leading light for numerous other women who chose the same path to serve society.