Penn, Jack

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PENN, JACK (1909–1996), South African plastic surgeon. Penn was born in Cape Town and studied at the University of Witwatersrand. He was appointed professor of plastic maxillo-facial surgery at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in 1944. During World War ii he commanded the Brenthurst Military Hospital for Plastic Surgery in Johannesburg; as consultant to the Union Defence Force, he held the rank of brigadier.

In 1950 he resigned his professorship and opened a private clinic, which he also named Brenthurst Clinic. He was regarded as one of the world's leading plastic surgeons.

During the Israeli War of Independence and subsequently during the Sinai Campaign, the Six-Day War in 1967, and the Yom Kippur War of 1973 he brought a plastic surgery unit to Israel.

Penn was also a talented sculptor, and his sculptures include those of Ben-Gurion, Dayan, Smuts, Herzog, etc., and full-sized statues of the first white and first black registered nurses in S. Africa. After World War ii he was invited by the Johannesburg government to treat the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs, and initiated reconstructive surgery in Rhodesia, Mozambique, French Equatorial Africa, and Taiwan.

In 1980, Penn was appointed to the new President's Council by South African Prime Minister R.P.W. Botha.

His publications include Brenthurst Papers, Letters to My Son (1974), his autobiography The Right to Look Human (1974; 2nd ed., 1976), and A Sense of Responsibility (1978).

[Louis Isaac Rabinowitz]