In 1970 Professor Earl Owen, A.O. became the first surgeon in the world to successfully re-join the severed finger of a child. This first operation was performed at the Children's Hospital in Sydney. In an effort to raise money for further research into this ground-breaking field, the Microsearch Foundation of Australia was established as an independent, non-profit charity and research organisation. The Microsearch Foundation continues to lead the world in developing new and improved practical techniques and technologies for use in surgery.
Findings and developments have been taught nationwide and worldwide via fellowships and training workshops held both at our original microsurgery centre at Surry Hills and in 87 countries by invitation.
In September 1998, Professor Owen led the first team to sucessfully transplant a hand from a dead donor. This was done with other members of Professor Owen's international team who were trained either at Microsearch or at Microsearch's international workshops in the past 30 years. The leader of the French team was Professor Max Dubernard who is very well known in both France and Europe and has headed many surgical organisations including EuroTransplant. Two years later Professor Dubernard and Professor Owen led the same team in carrying out the first successful double hand transplant, again in Lyon, France.
In 2005 Professor Owen retired as Medical Director, although he remains active in Microsearch, and Professor Richard Allen became the new Medical Director. Professor Allen has a distinguished record in the field of surgery and microsurgery. As Director of Transplantation at The University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred he heads a laboratory that is foremost in Australia in developing techniques in microsurgery. He is also director of the National Pancreas Transplantation Programme at Westmead Hospital and is a Council Member for the International Transplantation Society.
To ensure that Microsearch remains at the forefront of microsurgical research, it has relocated to the campus of Sydney University. Here, in collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine, it is building a state-of-the-art research and teaching laboratory. To ensure the maximum effectiveness of our research and training expenditure, Microsearch became a division of Sydney Medical School Foundation, the University of Sydney in 2006.