(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Dr. Paul Wilson Brand, CBE (July 17, 1914 – July 8, 2003) was a pioneer in developing
tendon transfer techniques for use in the hands of those with leprosy. He was the
first physician to appreciate that leprosy did not cause the rotting away of tissues,
but that it was the loss of the sensation of pain which made sufferers susceptible
to injury. Brand contributed extensively to the fields of hand surgery and hand therapy
through his publications and lectures, and wrote popular autobiographical books about
his childhood, his parents' missionary work, and his philosophy about the valuable
properties of pain. One of his best known books, co-
He was born to missionary parents (Jesse and Evelyn "Granny" Brand) and grew up in the Kolli Hills of Tamil Nadu, India, until he was sent to the United Kingdom in 1923 for education. In his books he gives vivid descriptions of his time as a boy in India with regular bouts of dysentery and malaria in the area known as "Kolli Malai". His father died in 1928 of blackwater fever, when Brand was 15. Brand trained in medicine at University College Hospital during the Second World War, and later gained his surgical qualifications whilst working as a casualty surgeon in the London Blitz. He met his wife, Margaret, in medical school. She too was a surgeon. He died on July 8, 2003 at Swedish Hospital in Seattle, Washington.
In 1946, he was invited to join the staff of the Christian Medical College & Hospital
in Vellore, India. After a visit to the Leprosy Sanatorium at Chingleput, a government
institution that was at the time under church management, Brand was motivated to
explore the reasons for the deformities developed in those with Hansen's disease.
After careful observation and research, he came to understand that most injuries
in Hansen's disease patients were a result of the pain insensitivity they experienced,
and not directly caused by the Hansen's disease bacilli. In 1950, with a donation
from a missionary woman, Brand established the New Life Center, Vellore, as a model
rehabilitation center for Hansen's disease patients. The center was a village environment
in the residential area of the Christian Medical College & Hospital campus. This
helped dispel the stigma that was so prevalent even among medical professionals.
Correcting deformities to restore the self-
In 1966, after 19 years of service in India, he moved to the U.S.A. on invitation
to take up the position of Chief of Rehabilitation Branch at the National Hansen's
Disease Center at Carville, Louisiana. He worked there for 20 years and established
During his career, Brand received many awards and honors. He was awarded the Hunterian
professorship of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1952, and the Lasker Award in 1960.
Queen Elizabeth honored him with a title of the Commander of the Order of the British
Empire in 1961. He served as President of The Leprosy Mission International based
in London and was on the Panel of Experts on leprosy of the World Health Organization.
He was one of the main architects of the All-
A biography was written on him, Ten Fingers for God by Dorothy Clarke Wilson.
His appreciation of the importance and value of pain is well described in his 1993 book with Philip Yancey, Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants. He saw pain as vital for the preservation of healthy tissue in anyone leading a normal life and he gives horrifying descriptions of the results of insensitivity in those with Hansen's disease or congenital absence of pain. He goes on to question the pursuit of pleasure in Western society and offers practical ways to ameliorate the effects of pain. The book contains a foreword by Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, who said that if he could have chosen to be anyone else besides himself, he would have chosen to be Dr. Paul Brand