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
  • Get to the point
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

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before