UF Health mourns the loss of Hal Bingham, M.D., noted surgeon and burn care pioneer
By Dorothy Hagmajer
A bit of a wide grin and a s quinty look. A surgeon, a teacher, a clarinetist and a family man. That’s some of the ways faculty and staff at the UF College of Medicine’s department of surgery remember Hal Gene Bingham, M.D.
Bingham, a former chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery, passed away Sept. 29 at the age of 93.
His influence in surgery spanned a variety of areas. He served in the chief role for 23 years and led the growth of the regional Burn Intensive Care Center at UF Health Shands Hospital in 1978. Under his guidance, the unit doubled in size, while the number of patient beds increased by 40%.
Notably, Bingham was one of the first Florida surgeons to use skin cultivated in a laboratory, or “test tube skin,” to repair burn-damaged skin in patients. This helped circumvent the problems associated with transplanting donor skin, like possible rejections, and increased the amount of available skin for grafting.
In addition to his surgical experiences, Bingham was shaped by two things: his time in the U.S. Army and Air Force, and his love for his family.
The former resulted in a Bronze Star Medal, the U.S. military’s fourth-highest individual honor. A foot soldier from 1943-46, Bingham fought in the Battle of the Bulge, which was the last major German offensive crusade on the Western Front during World War II. He self-published a book about his combat experiences. Bingham also served as a captain in the Air Force for two years.
“I think after his time on the battlefront, everything else was just gravy,” said colleague Timothy C. Flynn, M.D., FACS, an emeritus professor of surgery in the UF College of Medicine. “He was a very even-tempered and quiet man whose moral compass always pointed north.”