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Svyatoslav Fyodorov MD PhD

By Dimitrii Dementiev MD

Svyatoslav Nikolaevich Fyodorov was born in the Ukraine in the city of Proskurov (now Khmelnitsky) in 1927. He belonged to a generation of fellows who were obsessed with aviation. His father was brigade commander Nikolai Fyodorov who supported his son's aspirations. Having passed through the fronts of the WWI and the Civil War, his father became a professional military man. Slava admired his father, but at the end of 1938 disaster struck: his father was arrested and sentenced to 17 years in camps as an “enemy of the people” and this was a heavy blow. Slava was in isolation: friendship with the son of an enemy of the people was not welcomed.

He began studying at the Air Force Special School in Rostov when while unsuccessfully jumping off the footboard of the tram, he fell, and his leg got caught under the wheel which caused loss of his foot. And now, how was he to live?


Knowing he would never become a pilot, he applied to the Rostov Medical Institute. In 1952, he graduated from the institute and worked in the village of Veshenskaya, Rostov Region, and later to the Urals, to Lysva, where he became a surgeon at a local hospital. His enthusiasm and interest in the profession grew. Just 6 years after he left the institute, he defended his PhD thesis, and in 1960 in Cheboksary (where he then worked) he performed a revolutionary operation: an intraocular lens (IOL) implant. In the West, such operations were beginning, but in the USSR they were considered charlatanism, and he was fired from his job.


In May 1966, at the invitation of British ophthalmologist Sir Harold Ridley (the 1st in the world to implant an artificial lens in 1949), Fyodorov took part in a conference on the lens implantation held in London. Then, as part of a foreign trip, he conducted several successful operations in the Netherlands. Later, in 1967, he published his Fyodorov formula for IOL power.


Having moved to Arkhangelsk (Archangel in Siberia), he became the head of the department of eye diseases at the medical institute there. It was here that his “empire” began.

From his biography: “Like-minded people gathered around the indefatigable surgeon, ready for revolutionary changes in eye microsurgery. People from all over the country flocked to Arkhangelsk in the hope of regaining their lost sight. The surgeon was also rated (officially) and together with his team, he moved to Moscow. He began to do very novel things for the time: correct vision using radial keratotomy, transplant a donor cornea, develop a new method for operating on glaucoma, inventing phakic IOLs and became a pioneer of laser eye microsurgery.


The scientific and technical medical complex Eye Microsurgery in Moscow, which he founded and led, had a foreign currency account, could serve foreign clients, independently determine the number of employees and their salaries, and also engage in economic activities outside of medicine. This was highly unusual in Soviet Russia. Fyodorov actively led the construction of branches throughout the country and abroad. There was also a sea vessel - the ophthalmological clinic “Peter the First” on which was performed eye surgeries that brought in $14 million a year. He wrote dozens of articles, monographs, patented a huge number of inventions, received many awards, prizes, titles, and earned world fame.


His death On June 2, 2000 in a Gazelle helicopter (belonging to the clinic) from which Fyodorov was returning from a conference from Tambov. It collapsed into a vacant lot in the Brattsevo district, near the Moscow Ring Road. All four people on board died. According to the conclusion of the IAC, the cause of the crash was a technical malfunction of the helicopter. He was buried in the rural cemetery of the village of Rozhdestvenno, Mytishchi District, 60 km from Moscow. At the place of his death (Salome Neris Street, 14), a chapel was built.

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