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.

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

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker