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Sven Med Tidskr. 2005;9(1):69-82.

[Pehr af Bjerkén 1765-1818. Chief baber-surgeon at the Serafimer hospital. Physician to the king].

[Article in Swedish]

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Pehr af Bjerkén had his descent from a parish named Bjärka in western Sweden. His father was a medical doctor and assessor in Stockholm. At the age of sixteen Bjerkén began his studies in Uppsala. Later on he became a "chirurgiae studiosus" in Stockholm at the Serafimer hospital as a pupil of professor Olof Acrel. He defended a doctor's dissertation on "Febris puerperalis" in 1793. Thereafter Bjerkén went to London, where he spent three years. He was taken care of by mr Henry Cline and he met also John Hunter. After some time mr Cline made him a "House surgeon" at S:t Thomasis and Guys hospitals. He got good practice especially regarding the surgery of stones in the urinary bladder and in the surgery of the eye. During the stay he was appointed a member of the Medical Society of London. Back in Sweden Bjerkén practised the surgery with great success.and became physician in ordinary to the king. When in Februar 1808 the Russian tzar Alexander invaded Finland Bjerkén was appointed chief army surgeon in nothern Finland. During this war Bjerkén showed his courage on the battle fields operating and taking care of the wounded soldiers, also the enemies. Most wellknowned for us he became through a sentense in the poem "Döbeln at Juutas". In February 1809, when the Russian tzar had conquered all of Finland. Bjerkén resigned from the Finnish army. The first of June 1809 af Bjerkén was appointed to be head barber-surgeon (head surgeon) of the Serafimer hospital in Stockholm. He was then the most qualified surgeon in Sweden and was looked upon as the most important authority in surgery. Bjerkén was the first one to describe an operation and ligation of an aneurysm of the carotide artery. In 1812 he also published a ligation and resektion of a huge tongue reaching below the chin on a girl eleven years of age. Together with the description there was an engraving. This became the first illustrated publication in the proceedings of the Swedish Society of Medicine. He was especially wanted för operations of stones in the urinary bladder but had also great success in most of his operations and clinical work. In spite of this or due to his great load of surgery he wrote few scientific works. In January 1818 Bjerkén was invited to Gothenburgh to operate upon a urinary bladder stone. During the journey from Stockholm he got a stroke. Bjerkén was token care of in Jönköping by his old friend Jacob Edgren, head army surgeon. When lying on his deathbed he was told that the king Karl XIII had died. Bjerkén then said: "Well, the king of Sweden is dead and the king of the surgeons goes soon after". Bjerkén died on the 24 th of February 1818, 53 years of age. Pehr af Bjerkén was buried in the churchyard at Dala in the parish where his brother Carl-Gustaf had been the dean. Some hundred years later in 1912 a monument to the memory of Pehr af Bjerkén was erected at Dala by the Swedish Society of Medicine in connection with a commemoration.

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