Meeting – August 3rd 2017

Meetings of the Society
Meetings of the Society
Auckland Medical History Society

The Auckland Medical History Society will meet in the Ernest and Marion Davis Library at Auckland City Hospital on Thursday 3rd August 2017 



The evening will be as follows:

6.00pm: Drinks will be served in the Ernest and Marion Davis Library
6.30pm: Dinner will be served in the dining room
7.30pm: Guest presenter, John Collins
8.30pm: Guest presenter, Ross Blair

1. Founder’s Lecture : Dispassion or Compassion? Attitudes of surgeons and experience in early nineteenth century Britian – Presented by John Collins
2. The Enigma of Antonia Scarpa and the University of Padua – Presented by Ross Blair

Dinner Cost: members $32 (including table waters and juice), non-members or guests $40, students with ID $18.
No payment is required for attendance at lectures only. Wine vouchers are to be pre-purchased.

Members are to:

Indicate the number of vouchers required and include payment for them with your dinner payment. One voucher will cost $5 and will be redeemed for one glass of wine. A bottle (approx. five glasses) can be purchased for $20 (4 vouchers).
 Collect your pre-ordered wine vouchers with your name badge. There will be few vouchers available on the
night so your advanced purchase of them is recommended.

ESSENTIAL INFORMATION – Number attending, names and method of payment.
 Book by phone: Call 0274 305 326 with the names of attendees, method of payment and your phone number
 Book by mail: Post the names of attendees, your phone number and cheque made out to the Auckland Medical History Society Elizabeth Collins, P O Box 133190, Eastridge, Auckland 1146
 Book by email: Send the names of attendees to and confirmation of your
payment to the BNZ account of the AMHS: 02 0160 0237509 00.
 Deadlines and Cancellations: Please confirm your booking details by 12 noon on Mon 3rd July 2017. Cancellations with refund or credit of any payment made will be accepted by phone or
email as above until noon on Wednesday 5th July. We appreciate payments in advance, as our caterers are paid that way.
*Payment is not required if you are attending the presentations only.

Presenter, John Collins 

After graduating with distinction in medicine in Ireland, John trained as a general surgeon in England. Soon after being appointed as a surgeon at Middlemore Hospital, he returned to the UK (Leeds) on a Commonwealth Foundation Scholarship. After completing his MCH, he joined the University of Auckland based at South Auckland Health, where his major focus was in breast surgery and medical education. He later completed an MD in medical education.

After a severe injury to his left hand ended his surgical career, he was appointed Foundation Dean of Education at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in Melbourne and later Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne – the latter position he still retains. Five years later he transferred to the University of Oxford as Visiting Professor and Fellow of Green Templeton College, both appointments he still occupies. John is a guide at the Auckland War Memorial Museum and is currently undertaking a PhD in the History of Medicine at the University of Auckland.

Topic Summary:

Attitudes of surgeons and experience of patients in early nineteenth century Britain 

In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, caricaturists and others frequently labelled surgeons as callous, pitiless, and unfeeling, eager to operate and oblivious to the pain and suffering they inflicted on patients in the name of healing. Indeed, the emotional ability to inflict pain was said to be a prerequisite for those wishing to consider surgery as a career. This presentation will examine whether indeed these surgeons were bereft of compassion and also consider the personal experiences of patients undergoing surgery at that time.

Presenter, Ross Douglas Blair

Born in Hamilton, Ross attended Auckland Grammar School and then completed an MBChB in Otago 1965. As a house surgeon in Auckland 1966-1967 with a bias to surgery and particularly working in the Greenlane CTSU, Ross decided to continue with surgery. After a year as a graduate demonstrator in physiology at Otago to obtain the surgical primary, he returned to Auckland and obtained FRACS in 1970.

Ross’ special interest in vascular surgery was confirmed in 1971 working in the CTSU Greenlane as a senior registrar. David Cole arranged for him to continue vascular training in Colchester. Appointed a consultant in Thoracic and Vascular Surgery at Waikato hospital in 1973, Geoff Allen and Ross established a Vascular Surgery service for the Waikato region as well as providing a general Thoracic service. When Ross retired in 2012, the unit boasted five vascular surgeons. A separate Cardio-thoracic unit was established in 1989.

Ross became involved in the Australasian College of Surgeons when appointed a General Surgical examiner in 1987, and was appointed senior examiner in vascular surgery when this became a separate specialty in 1995.  His election as Chairman of the Court of Examiners, the first New Zealander to hold that position, was the final challenge. Elected a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 1993, Ross has served as Chairman of the Australasian Chapter, and Governor for Australia and NZ.

Ross joined the RNZAMC in 1977 as a territorial, and continued an involvement until 2015, with deployments to the Pacific Islands, the First Gulf War and East Timor. An interest in Medico-Legal matters was triggered by the RACS asking him to chair an inquiry into Cardio -Thoracic Surgery in Christchurch 1993 (Ramstead Inquiry), and as a result of this, he chaired the NZ Medico-Legal Reform Group. In his retirement he continues this interest as Chairman of Medicus Indemnity Insurance NZ.

The other activities which keep Ross out of trouble are yachting, music and singing with Auckland Choral. Medical History, and in particular collecting old medical texts, is a continuing interest.

Topic Summary: The Enigma of Antonia Scarpa and the University of Padua

Scarpa graduated from the University of Padua in 1770, and continued an illustrious career in Pavia, as an anatomist and surgeon, renowned throughout Europe and Britain.  With 10 anatomical eponyms, he made a major contribution to the anatomy of the ear, glossopharyngeal and cardiac nerves, nasopalatine nerve, anatomy and surgery of inguinal hernias, treatment of ocular diseases, anatomy of club foot, and nature of atherosclerosis. His book on Aneurysms (English edition 1808) is a masterful description of aneurysms, but he is very critical of the aetiology of aneurysms as taught by his contemporaries. Described as an authoritarian and picky man, with few friends and many enemies, it appears that his personality damaged his reputation and influence in Pavia and his alma mater, Padua.

Ross Blair hopes that the tribunal of history will recognise Scarpa’s valuable contribution to medicine.