March 21, 2019
On March 17, 2019, Basil A. Pruitt, Jr., MD, a renowned surgeon known as one of the founding fathers of modern trauma and burn medicine, an old friend of Chinese burn surgeons, and honorary editor of both Burns & Trauma and Chinese Journal of Burns, passed away at age of 88.
Born on August 21, 1930, Dr. Pruitt received his MD degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1957 after graduated from Harvard College in 1952. He began his residency at the Boston City Hospital and completed it at Brooke General Hospital in 1964. During a year in Vietnam he served as Chief of Professional Services at the 12th Evacuation Hospital and the Chief of the Trauma Research Team. He then became Commander and Director of the U. S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (Army Burn Center), a position he held for the last 27 of his 35 years as a military surgeon.
Dr. Pruitt served on 15 journal editorial boards and 39 international science associations, of which he was elected as the president of 12 surgical societies. He gained numerous awards and honorary memberships, and made a substantial contribution to the advance of world’s burn medicine.
The intimate relationship between Dr. Pruitt and Chinese burn medicine originated from the success of Sino-American Conference on Burn Injuries in 1985, which was jointly organized by Dr. Pruitt and Prof. Li Ao, the most prestigious pioneer and leader in Chinese burn surgery field, also the founder of the Institute of Burn Research. These meetings have largely strengthened the international academic exchanges and collaborations in burn care, and greatly improved the advances of Chinese burn medicine. Dr. Pruitt was invited to visit the Institute for many times and praised the Institute as “the world leader in burn care and research”. All his precious guiding ideas helped the development of the Institute and Chinese burn surgery.
As the honorary editor of Burns & Trauma and Chinese Journal of Burns, Dr. Pruitt cared every progress the journals made. Since the Institute prepares for the launch of Burns & Trauma in 2012, Dr. Pruitt gave plenty of advice upon his rich experience. Burns & Trauma and the Institute always received his blessing and encouragement. He congratulated the journal last March, “Inclusion in the SCIE recognizes your editorial leadership and skills that have ensured the success of Burns & Trauma”, after getting the indexing news. Also, he sent an audio video birthday greeting for the 60th birthday of Institute of Burn Research last May. The Institute and the journal would not come so far without the support of Dr. Pruitt. Burns & Trauma will carry on with his kind blessing and encouragement.
Even though Dr. Pruitt has gone, his spirit of life-saving and innovation will be inherited for new generations to learn. He as a grand master surgeon will be greatly missed by the Chinese colleagues and live in their hearts forever.