50th Anniversary Report in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Includes Interview with Kennedy’s Physician

Arlington Heights, Ill. (October 29, 2013) - Fifty years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the medical and scientific evidence may support the possibility of the "single shooter, three bullet theory" of the event. Yet new insights into the old medical data simultaneously suggest there may have been multiple shooters, according to a special article by Dr. Rod J. Rohrich, Editor-in-Chief of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Dr. Rohrich and coauthors revisit the medical data on President Kennedy's shooting and death-an event that continues to generate debate and skepticism to this day. Dr. Rohrich is Professor and Chairman of plastic surgery at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

The authors present a narrative of the events from that fateful November day, focusing on the medical steps taken to resuscitate President Kennedy at Parkland Memorial Hospital. The attempt was unsuccessful, and the president was declared dead 17 minutes after arrival at the hospital.

Controversy and conspiracy theories flared up almost immediately-from the debate over performing the autopsy to the conflicting results of government panel reports in subsequent years. Dr. Rohrich and colleagues write, "Much of this controversy was driven by incomplete information, poor documentation and analysis, and the puzzling decision to withhold key medical evidence from both from investigators and the public."

Based on his team's review, Dr. Rohrich says, "A lot of the presented historical evidence shows that the single-shooter, three-bullet theory is plausible." However, in the face of divergent and contradicting evidence, the authors do not unequivocally support the single-shooter theory.

The competing evidence includes an exclusive video interview conducted with Dr. Robert McClelland-one of the last surviving members of the team of physicians who worked on President Kennedy at Parkland Memorial Hospital. He believes more than one shooter was involved. "I could actually look down within the skull cavity and see that the whole right back half of [Kennedy's] right cerebral hemisphere was gone," Dr. McClelland told Dr. Rohrich. "Not one shot caused all of these things."

Researchers point to three key areas affecting the multiple theories: size and location of the wounds, trajectory of the bullets and the lack of photographs and X-rays.

While researchers cannot point to one definitive theory, the medical data, and recent interview with Dr. McClelland are revealing. "Unfortunately, the controversy was not diminished by the divergent conclusions of the multiple commissions and panels that convened to investigate it," Dr. Rohrich says.

As a special feature, visitors to the Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery website can view the full interview with Dr. McClelland at PRSJournal.com.

Accompanying this research is a three-part article that highlights the major advances in trauma management and reconstructive plastic surgery since 1963. The article also includes insights into contemporary measures of triage in mass casualty events such as the Boston Marathon bombing. Both articles and the exclusive video can be viewed in their entirety at PRSJournal.com.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons. Representing more than 7,000 Member Surgeons, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. ASPS advances quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery. 

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