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Max Taffel, a surgeon, not a neurosurgeon

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2004 - Summer


I was sad to read of the death of Max Taffel [In memoriam, Spring 2004].

You reported that Dr. Taffel was a neurosurgeon. I believe you will find that he was a general surgeon.

Max Taffel was the most memorable of the excellent teachers I was fortunate enough to be exposed to at Yale Medical School from 1955 to 1959. He rarely missed medical grand rounds (despite the fact he was a surgeon) and he usually had something to say that was worth listening to and that demonstrated the great depth and breadth of his knowledge.

During World War II, he might well have been, as you reported, “the only neurosurgeon on … Saipan,” as a general surgeon. In my 31-year career as a military general surgeon, I did some neurosurgical cases myself (emergency head surgery for trauma) when the situation demanded it. But I think you will find that, at least when I knew him and scrubbed with him (while acting as a substitute surgical intern at Grace-New Haven Hospital), Dr. Max Taffel was a general surgeon.

Martin L. Fackler, M.D. ’59
Gainesville, Fla.

Dr. Fackler is correct. Max Taffel was a general surgeon who had received training in thoracic and neurological surgery.

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