Tulane ENT Clinic Office
Fax : 504-988-5948
Tulane ENT Academic Office
Fax : 504-988-7846
Tulane Head & Neck Surgery Center
888-284-3726 (toll free)
Dr. Francis LeJeune, born in Thibodaux, Louisiana in 1894, spoke French "as did all babies until they were older and could learn English", or so the young Francis thought. His father, chief engineer for the sugar cane grinding mill, a staunch disciplinarian, had full expectations of his son becoming an engineer. His mother was slight but possessed an iron will and a readiness for action that may very well have saved her life and her son's too. Mr. LeJeune, on location in Puerto Rico on a newly completed sugar cane grinding mill, wrote to her in December to plan to board the ocean steamship in February and bring their son Francis and all the necessities for a 4-year stay. After only two weeks they boarded in January and arrived safely in Puerto Rico. In February, while making the same scheduled trip, the steamship they were to have taken mysteriously disappeared and no survivors or clues or its fate were found. Presumably, the steamer exploded and sank.
His high school years were spent in San Juan, Puerto Rico. As the only non Spanish-speaking student he became fluent in Spanish, which served him well in later years with the Latin-American clientele of the Ochsner Clinic. After his graduation from high school in San Juan, he entered Jefferson College in Convent, Louisiana, from which he graduated in 1914 with a BS degree. He entered Tulane University School of Engineering, but after two years changed his course of study to the School of Medicine.
His father, disappointed at the change of his educational goals, admonished him, "All right son, you have one more chance at school, but if you do not make good, you go back to work in the saw mill". In later years he remembered this statement with amusement, but it served as a strong impetus to catapult him down the path of a diligent and successful career in medicine.
In 1920 he served an internship in Charily Hospital and then a two-year residency in Otolaryngology at the Eye Ear Nose and Throat Hospital in New Orleans. In 1923 he began practice with Dr. Robert C. Lynch, New Orleans' most renown Laryngologist of the day. From 1923 to 1936 he was instructor in the Department of Otolaryngology of Tulane University, then Head of the Department until 1951.
The formation of the Ochsner Clinic by the Tulane University Chairmen of the departments of General Surgery, Otolaryngology, Orthopedics, Urology and Obstetrics in January of 1942 was a bold undertaking in a troubled period for the United States. The country had been attacked by Japan three weeks before and the future was uncertain. Most of the younger departed for war service. Understaffed and overworked, the five founders kept the organization going until 1945 when relief arrived in the form of returning physicians fresh from battle zones and eager to return to civilian status. The subsequent development of the Ochsner Clinic and Medical Institution is history.
He was a man of medium, solid stature with rounded, ruddy facial features beneath a sparse crown of hairs on a well-scrubbed scalp. He had bright eyes and a searching expression which varied from one of simple curiosity to fact-seeking, to deep interest, and could quickly change to a smile.
Associates noted that with patients his quiet, friendly greeting conveyed a sense of support, responsibility and full involvement in their medical problem. His calm demeanor and gentle touch during the examination seemed to inspire confidence. He would convey his diagnostic impression in warm, measured, informative tones cheerful and reassuring, if the message was a happy one. If the message was an unhappy one, it was delivered in a sincere and compassionate manner that would not destroy all the patient's hope. His straight-forward gaze and firm fatherly tones helped many patients to alter their lifestyles and eliminate the smoke damage, which he perceived to be the forerunner of laryngeal cancer.
He experienced Otolaryngology practice when relief was primarily incise and drain, pierce and lavage, an/or excise surgically. In the pre-antibiotic era, acute mastoiditis frequently required emergency mastoidectomy and even then could progress to meningitis and/or brain abscess.
Total commitment to patient care directed his actions. Late one night, just as he was beginning to do the second side of a bilateral acute mastoidectomy, he overheard the circulating nurse whisper to the anesthetist, "When Dr. LeJeune has finished the operation, tell him his mother just died of pneumonia." He completed the operation, then directed his attention to his family's problems.
His early training in Engineering helped him to develop surgical instruments and to solve mechanical problems in this evolving field of surgery. His production of the first color motion pictures of the larynx showing the altered dynamics of different disease states of the vocal cords was a blend of these skills. For this he received the coveted Castlebury Award of the American Laryngological Association. His technical skills with the suspension laryngoscope, the bronchoscope and esophagoscope were masterful and this often was the key to removal of a foreign body from a child or adult. Not infrequently, he was able to obtain tissue specimens deep within the bronchus and furnish an exact histological diagnosis. He was one of the early diagnosticians of pulmonary cancer, a malady that was beginning to plague heavy smokers of that day. The heavy pipe smokers with precancerous lesions on the lips and vocal cords were his concern.
He was an excellent clinician and a student of the art of medical practice. His passion to teach the younger generation of doctors going into the specialty of otolaryngology stimulated the minds of many of our community's subsequent leading otolaryngologists. He served for 15 years as the chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology of Tulane University School of Medicine. Nationally, his presidency of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology, the American Laryngological Rhinological and Otological Society, the American Broncho Esophalogical Association, and the American Laryngological Association helped bring recognition to this community. His additional work in the field of Laryngeal disease won him the Newcomb Award in 1970 and the prized De Roaldes Award for excellence in the field of laryngology.
He had many friends in medical and business professions which held realistic attraction for him. His fishing and hunting friends considered him a wonderful and warm companion and he reflected a complete feeling of peace when afloat with a fishing rod in his hand. In all of these professional and recreational endeavors he enjoyed the full and loving support of his lovely wife from the Mississippi Delta Annalynne, to whom he remained a devoted and loyal husband until his final day, at age 83 years, in October of 1977. He left a legacy that will long be revered by all who knew or worked with him.
Dept. of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery, 1430 Tulane, SL 59, New Orleans, LA 70112 504-988-5454 firstname.lastname@example.org