OBITUARIES : Geoffrey Flavell

Surgeons, by the nature of their work, seldom attract the publicity which comes to the leaders of other professions, such as politics and the arts, or sport. Only rarely does a Christiaan Barnard, by making a spectacular advance in transplant sur gery, become a public figure. Yet there are surgeons who, within their own profession, have star status, celebrated for the quality of their work, and the contribution they have made to advancing methods and knowledge.

One such man was Geoffrey Flavell, the cardio-thoracic surgeon. He was born in New Zealand, read pre-clinical medicine at Otago University, and completed his training at Bart's, in London. He studied under the remarkable Sir William Girling Ball, the original of the book and film character Sir Lancelot Spratt. Flavell qualified in 1937, and by 1939 had become the resident surgical officer at the Brompton Hospital, and had gained the FRCS and the MRCP.

During the Second World War he served in the RAF Volunteer Reserve, holding senior surgical posts in Egypt and North Africa. He worked closely with this fellow countryman Sir Archibald Macindoe, of Guinea Pig fame, in treating the severely burned.

In 1950 Flavell was appointed a consultant at theLondon Hospital, where he served with constantly increasing distinction for the next 30 years. His operating techniques became so celebrated that they were filmed and used for teaching students. Much of his work, from the 1950s onward, was concerned with cancer of the lung. He was one of the first doctors to denounce cigarette-smoking as a cause of cancer.

One of his sayings passed into medical mythology, when he declared, ``Doctors who smoke should be viewed in the same light as a clergyman who keeps a mistress.''

Geoffrey Flavell was the author of a number of works on surgery, in particular his Introduction to Chest Surgery (1957), still regarded as a major textbook. His practice became increasingly international, extending from South Africa to Singapore and the Gulf. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1973.

He was a widely cultivated man, keenly interested in literature and the arts, and a genuine connoisseur of food and wine, contributing often to Andre Simon's Food and Wine. He married in 1943 Joan Adams (``Fan'' to her friends). It was a deeply happy marriage, and Fan nursed him through the long years of suffering which cancer finally inflicted on him, suffering he bore with a characteristically good- humoured stoicism. His fellow New Zealander the classicist Sir Ronald Syme wrote an epitaph for him. Itread "Mors toties victa/ victorem vicit"; or, ``He won many battles with death, but not the last''.

Geoffrey Cox

Geoffrey Flavell, cardio-thoracic surgeon: born 22 February 1913; Senior Surgeon, Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, London Hospital 1950-78; married 1943 Joan Adams; died Bath 28 November 1994.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015