Radical Woman of the Day: Lucille Teasdale-Corti

On this day in 1929 was born Lucille Teasdale-Corti, a Canadian physician who spent most of her life and career working at a small hospital in Uganda. Educated at a Catholic school in Montreal, where she also volunteered at a clinic for disadvantaged people, she early determined to become a doctor.

Winning a scholarship to the medical school at the University of Montreal, she began studying medicine in 1950, one of only eight women in her class of 110, and in 1955 became one of the first female surgeons in Quebec. After graduation, while working at the Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine, she met Piero Corti, whom she would later marry. He invited her to accompany him to Uganda to work as a surgeon at a small clinic, where in 1961 she began operating and treating outpatients. Over the course of her time in Uganda she would perform over 13,000 operations and see the hospital grow from 40 maternity beds to 465 beds and multiple departments.

In 1962, Uganda gained independence from Britain and began to be plagued by civil unrest and war. Teasdale-Corti’s small hospital would treat many victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army and suffer itself from looting and the kidnapping of hospital staff. Throughout these difficult decades, Teasdale-Corti and her husband still managed to found a nursing school at the hospital and engage in other efforts to educate local people.

Possibly as a result of contact with one of her surgical patients, Teasdale-Corti contracted AIDS in the mid–1980s. She died 11 years later and was buried on the grounds of her hospital in Uganda.