Johanes von Mikulicz-Radecki was born in Czernowitz (in what was then Austria and is now Poland) on May 16, 1850. His father was an architect and his mother was a member of the Prussian nobility. His ability with languages was early evident and as a youth he spoke fluent German and Polish, and had a facility for Russian. He did his undergraduate studies at Hermannstadt and was headed for a career in law when, against his father's wishes he turned to medicine. Mikulicz went to the University of Vienna to study medicine. His father was so upset with his son that he refused to pay for his studies and Mikulicz taught piano and played organ in a church every morning from 5 to 8 a.m. to pay for his studies. He finished his M.D. in 1875.
After graduation he worked as volunteer assistant to Theodor Billroth, a surgery professor the University of Vienna. After three years his became Billroth's regular assistant. In 1880 he qualified as Privatdozent (unpaid tutor) and took charge of the surgical department at the Allgemeinen Polyklinik (general outpatient clinic) in Vienna. While there he improved the models of the esophagoscope and gastroscope by including distal illumination allowing the surgeon to better visualize the interior of these organs. In 1882 he became the director of the Surgical Clinic of Krakow. In 1887 he accepted the position as director and professor of surgery at the Surgical Clinic of Konigsburg. He remained there for three years and then became the professor of surgery at Breslau in 1890. He remained there until his death.
Mikulicz did much to improve surgical techniques used operating on the digestive system. While at Krakow he was the first surgeon to suture a perforated gastric ulcer and surgically restore part of the esophagus after tumor resection. An ardent advocate of Joseph Lister's work using antiseptics he used a gauze mask during surgery and was one of the first surgeons to wear sterile cotton gloves during surgery.
An imperturbable surgeon one of his assistants recorded a story about an emergency laprotomy performed on a particularly stormy day. While preparing for the surgery one of the glass windows on the roof of the surgical clinic shattered raining pieces of glass down, one nearly missing Mikulicz. Mikulicz calmly turned to the his assistant and asked him to prepare the patient.
Mikulicz died on Jun 14, 1905.
Olch, Peter D.;"Johan von Mikulicz-Radecki"; Annals of Surgery (1960)152:923-926
Young, Archibald; "Obiturary: Dr. Johannes von Mikulicz-Radeki"; Glasgow Medical Journal (1905)64:110-115
Jan Mikulicz-Radecki Wikipedia Article