Eduard A. V. Busch
1961, New York, NY
When it was decided to invite Dr. Eduard Busch as our honored guest for the meeting in New York in 1961, a man was chosen who was rather accustomed to receiving high professional honors.
He was an honorary member of: The British Society of Neurological Surgeons; La Societ_ de Neurochirurgie de Langue Fran_aise; Sociedad Chilena de Neurologia, Psiquitria y Neurocirurgia; Sociedad de Cirurjanos de Hospital Chile; Sociedad Medica de Santiago; Sociedad de Neuropsiquitria y Medicina Legal de Valparaiso; Associacion Medica Argentina; III° Congresso Sul-Americano de Neuro-Cirurgia; IV° Congresso Sul-Americano de Neuro-Cirurgia, Tokyo Bay Medical Society; Societa Italiana de Neuro-Chirurgia; Societ_ de Chirurgie de Lyon; Asamblea Nacional de Cirurjanos; y Conferencia Mexicana de Neurologia Quirurgia. He also is an honorary professor of the Facultad de Biologia y Ciensias Medicas de la Universidad de Chile. Furthermore, Dr. Busch was made an Honorary Consultant of Neurosurgery at the 3rd, 5th, and 15th ROK Army Hospitals, of Korea Police Hospital, of POW Hospital, Pusan, and of the Children's Hospital, Pusan. He was awarded the American Medal of Freedom 3, United Nations Medal of Honor, Storkors af den Islandske Falk (Iceland) and Storkors af den Islandske Falk med Stjerne (Iceland), Ridder af Danebrog (Denmark), Ridder af 1.grad af Danebrog (Denmark), Jutlandia Medaljen (Denmark) and Dansk Kirurgisk Selskabs Mindemedalje (Denmark), and finally he was awarded two great Danish honorary grants. To make the record complete it should be mentioned that Dr. Busch on his way from Denmark to our meeting in New York had to make a stopover in Iceland to be made an Honorary Doctor of Medicine at the University of Iceland.
In spite of all previous honors bestowed upon him Dr. Busch was particularly pleased to accept the invitation as the honored guest of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, and he was so, for two reasons: First, because he was always a great admirer of North America, its people, and its traditions. Many of his closest friends were Americans, and to him as to all other neurosurgeons this is the place where the cradle of neurosurgery stood. This is the land of Drs. Cushing, Dandy, Frazier, Mixter, Naffziger, Horrax, Peet, Adson, and others whose names forever will be remembered among neurosurgeons. It is also the land that still possesses so many outstanding men in the field of neurosurgery and allied sciences, toward whom most of the neurosurgical attention of the world is directed. It is, therefore, rightfully considered a great honor for a man from abroad to be invited as the guest of honor of one of the outstanding neurosurgical societies of this country.
The second reason for Dr. Busch to feel pleased by receiving an invitation from the Congress of Neurological Surgeons was because the unique type of meetings conducted by this society appealed to him--the type of meeting in which the emphasis is placed upon passing to the younger neurosurgeons the experiences of the older ones, the meetings planned to bridge the past with the future in the field of neurological surgery. Dr. Busch always considered teaching as one of the main objects of the pioneers of neurosurgery.
Dr. Busch was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, on September 9, 1899--an unusual birthday for an unusual man. Once he was asked by a police officer in London to give his name and birthday. When the officer heard the date 9/9/99, he asked sarcastically: "Did you give a wrong name, too?" Dr. Busch did his undergraduate work and went to medical school in Copenhagen where he received his M.D. degree in 1924 from the University of Copenhagen. In 1930 his dissertation, "Studies on the Nerves of the Blood-Vessels, with Especial Reference to Periarterial Sympathectomy," was accepted by the University of Copenhagen, and he was made Doctor of Medicinae. After medical school he went into general surgery, in which field he received excellent training from three outstanding Danish general surgeons: Johannes Ipsen, Mogens Fenger, and Vilhelm Schaldemose. Following his training in general surgery he was licensed by the Board of General Surgery in 1932. During his training in general surgery he played with the idea of going into neurosurgery but discarded the idea again because he felt that from a therapeutic standpoint neurological surgery was a rather hopeless fiel!! During the later part of his training in general surgery, however, he had the opportunity to operate upon a boy with a cranial-cerebral injury. Finding how remarkably well the boy made out he changed his attitude, and encouraged by Schaldemose, who pointed out to him the great demand for surgeons specialized in this field, he decided to go into neurosurgery. It was planned that he should take his neurosurgical training in Paris with Petit-Dutaillis. Before doing so he went on a vacation to Sweden, where he stopped in to see Dr. Olivecrona in Stockholm. Dr. Busch became so impressed by the work done by Olivecrona that he decided to take his training there. He spent 11/2years with Olivecrona learning Olivecrona's excellent clinical and surgical methods. The stay there resulted in a very close friendship between these two men which lasted ever since.
Following his stay in Stockholm Dr. Busch went on a trip to the United States, where he studied neurological surgery for 3 months. He went to see Dr. Cushing and followed the work being done on Dr. Cushing's service. He was appointed Dr. Cushing's professional "nephew." Dr. Busch also visited Dr. Dandy and was invited to stay in Dandy's home as a house guest. The meeting with these two outstanding neurological surgeons made a great impression on the young visitor, and he considered it one of his greatest experiences.
Upon his return to Denmark he was made a staff member in neurology at the University Hospital in Copenhagen, because neurosurgery was not considered important enough to be made a speciality of its own; and, of course, the idea was that the diagnosis should be made by a neurologist anyhow! Dr. Busch was given 11 beds from the professor of neurology, Viggo Christiansen. He got one assistant and his monthly salary was $70.00, which was considered plenty for the two or three neurosurgical patients he was expected to be treating per month. Of course, once the neurosurgeon was available the demand for neurosurgical treatment increased rapidly. In 1939 he was made head of his own service at the University Hospital, but not until 1948 was neurological
surgery given its own professorship in Denmark and Dr. Busch was made the first professor in this field. His service now has about 80 beds, there are a dozen doctors working there, and through the years Dr. Busch's service has treated 30,000 to 40,000 neurosurgical patients. Dr. Busch was very active in establishing other neurosurgical services in Denmark, and in 1961 Denmark had six such services, all headed by men who trained with Dr. Busch.
During the war Dr. Busch was active in the underground movement against the German occupation; he was probably inspired by one of his very close friends, the professor of neurology, Dr. Mogens Fog, who was one of the top leaders of the underground movement. During the Korean War Dr. Busch was among those who organized the Danish hospital ship, Jutlandia, which was sent to Korea as part of the Danish help to the United Nations. Dr. Busch went with the ship as head of the neurosurgical service. During his stay in Korea he not only did a great amount of work on the ship but he also organized neurosurgical services ashore for both the armed forces and the Korean people. He took a special interest in the Children's Hospital. In this work
he received help from a neurosurgical friend in the United States to whom he wrote: "You are working in one of the best equipped hospitals in the world. I am working in one of the poorest. I need your help"--and he received plenty.
Dr. Busch was a founding member of the Scandinavian Society of Neurosurgery and he was the first vice president of the Society and the second president. He was a member of Dansk Oto-Neuro-Ofthalmologisk Selskab, Dansk Neurologisk Selskab, Dansk Medicinsk Selskab, Deutsches Gesellschaft fiir Chirurgie, Svensk Neurologisk Forening, Det Islandske Videnskabernes Selskab, and a corresponding member of the Harvey Cushing Society. He was president for the Third International Congress of Neurological Surgery held in Copenhagen in 1965.
Dr. Busch had a very dynamic personality. He was a very charming person, but may have also caused controversy mainly because of his dynamic approach to problems. He thought fast and acted fast, and he expected others to do the same. He was not an ordinary type of person and he always made a strong impression on those who met him and especially on those who got to know him closely. He was a strong believer in the democratic principles, in political life as well as in his own department. It was apparent to those working with him, however, that for a chief with such a powerful personality it frequently was difficult to transfer theoretical ideas about democracy into practical life in the department. He required hard and long working hours from his associates and if the work was not done to his satisfaction he would let them know so. To those who worked with him he remained a close friend, and he always took a keen interest in the future of his associates. Nobody ever asked for his help or advice in vain. First of all he was a very warmhearted man, devoted to his work, his patients, his family, and his friends. He sincerely disliked personal glorifying, and the writer took a great personal risk of attracting his dislike by listing all his honorary degrees and especially by mentioning them at the
beginning of this biography.
Dr. Busch was devoted to his patients. He wanted them treated on a very personal level--more like close friends than like patients in a big hospital. He liked to compare his service with that of the country doctor, who knew not only the medical problems of the patient but also his whole personal background. His interest for the patient extended to the relatives of the patient too. He always emphasized the impact of a serious disease on the patient and his relatives and the fact that the problem should be dealt with accordingly. Although he made rounds fast he always had a kind remark for each patient. Dr. Busch was a gifted surgeon and, although his motto was "An operation is soon enough done when good enough done," his surgical procedures were done fast as everything else he did.
Among the many associates Dr. Busch had through the years were also many from abroad who came to spend shorter or longer periods of time with him and who, when they left, took with them something, but who also left their marks on the department.
Dr. Busch's main hobbies apart from his professional work (which did not leave him too much time for other hobbies) were golf and deer hunting. He was a personal friend of the Danish king and he frequently participated in the royal hunts.
In 1937 he married Rigmor Schaeffer, an unusually fine lady, known for her kindness and hospitality. She was the gracious hostess for their many friends, professional and personal--be they from Denmark or from abroad--gathering in their delightful home. Dr. and Mrs. Busch raised two attractive children, a daughter, Hanne, and a son, Aksel.
Mrs. Busch was a trained physical therapist and, before she married the doctor, spent 7 years in the United States. During her stay in the States she was the personal physical therapist to Franklin D. Roosevelt after he contracted polio and before he became President of the United States.
I have wanted to draw a picture of a strong and very unusual personality, a man who has left his mark on neurosurgery and on those who have met him. I am not fortunate enough to be able to say that I knew Cushing, but I am proud that I can say, "I knew Busch." Dr. Eduard Busch died in 1982.