by Dr. Christopher Forrest, Class of 8T3
Dr. Nancy Hunt McKEE CONDLIFFE, at age 75, on August 1, 2022
My memories of Nancy run deep. It was 1979 when I had my first experience with the specialty of plastic and reconstructive surgery. I had started my first year in medical school, and a lunchtime lecture series was being held. Attendance was not mandatory, but the title “Microsurgery and the plastic surgeon” sounded intriguing. Nancy was the scheduled lecturer, and she arrived in her trademark green suit, prim and proper. I thought to myself that this is not what I thought a plastic surgeon would look like. She then proceeded to engage and enthral the audience with an hour-long dissertation on the relatively new subspecialty of microsurgery.
Her style was disarming and friendly. She was generous in her ideas and concepts. I was struck by how humble and down to earth she was.
Nancy’s representation of the scope and practice of the specialty resonated deeply and made me desperate to be part of this remarkable group of surgeons. It was an amazing and inspiring introduction to the special and creative world under the 10X lens. Over the years, I found Nancy to be a tremendously supportive mentor and colleague, and passionate about what she thought was best for Mount Sinai Hospital’s Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
Her broad clinical interests covered the gamut of reconstructive surgery, but her focus and true love was hand surgery. In this day of crowded and jammed clinics, she was unique in spending whatever time was necessary with a patient, an appointment often extending over an hour. She functioned as surgeon, therapist, and sometimes psychiatrist for her patients. Until the end of her career, she continued to engage in basic science research projects and mentor students from medicine and other health disciplines. Her enthusiasm for attempting to uncover the potential of any student she interacted with never waned.
Nancy’s contributions to the research profile and well-being of U of T’s Division of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery cannot be overstated. For years, she continued to run research supper clubs at her house, allowing opportunities for the research community at U of T to get together in a collaborative, collegial fashion.
In 2016, Nancy’s outstanding and remarkable career was recognized by U of T with the Chair’s Lifetime Achievement Award and by the Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual meeting in 2017.
She retired in June 2016 after 37 years in practice as faculty at Mount Sinai, representing our specialty as an “n of 1.” She had a remarkable and rich career as the first female surgeon to join the division.
Nancy was guided by the principles of “what is right.” For the patient. For the student. For the young staff person. For the division. It is a legacy that continues to run deep.
With Nancy's stories around the dinner table about the rewards of helping others, it’s not surprising that all three of her children entered medicine, including Dr. Elizabeth Grace Condliffe (Class of 0T8).
For a full description of Dr. McKee’s professional achievements, click here.