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Subject: Janusz Bardach, Gulag Survivor and Leading Plastic Surgeon

Aug. 16
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Date Posted: August 31, 2002 6:13:09 EDT

Dr. Janusz Bardach, a plastic surgeon who improved techniques for treating cleft lip and cleft palate and who wrote an acclaimed account of his life in Soviet labor camps in the early 1940's, died on Aug. 16 in Iowa City, his home. He was 83.

Dr. Bardach, a native of Ukraine who trained in Moscow after World War II, practiced plastic surgery in Poland and headed an early program in plastic surgery there. He came to the United States in 1972 and the next year became chairman of the division of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. He also held other posts, administrative and teaching, at the university's Medical College before retiring in 1991.

Dr. Bardach developed what colleagues came to call the Bardach palatoplasty, a surgical procedure for patients with congenital clefts of the palate, a condition in which the palate is separated into halves.

The new procedure minimized scarring, entailed one operation instead of the two that had previously been required and improved the patient's speaking ability.

Janusz Bardach was born in Odessa on July 28, 1919, and moved with his family to Poland in 1920. Poland was partitioned by Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939, and the next year he was drafted into the Soviet Army.

But after an accident in which a tank he was driving flipped onto its side, he was sentenced to 10 years at hard labor.

He wound up in a gulag in a frigid area of the Soviet Far East and served roughly half the sentence.

Dr. Bardach's gulag experiences are recounted in "Man Is Wolf to Man: Surviving the Gulag" (University of California Press, 1998), which he wrote with Kathleen Gleeson. A review in The New York Times Book Review said, "Bardach's meditations on slavery tap into the well of pain and insight that feeds songs of freedom everywhere."

A former wife of Dr. Bardach, Yelena, died before him.

He is survived by his wife, Phyllis Harper-Bardach; a daughter, Ewa Bardach of Iowa City; his brother, Juliusz, of Warsaw; two stepsons, Freeman Harper of Iowa City and William Harper of West Des Moines, Iowa; and a stepdaughter, Phyllis Finch of Atlanta.

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