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Vol. 23 No 4 | Summer 2021
College -> Obituaries
Obituaries
RANZCOG
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Dr Gregory John Kesby (1963–2021)

It is with much sadness that we record the death of Dr Greg Kesby on 25th October 2021 at the age of 58.

Greg graduated with honours in both science in 1985 and medicine in 1988 from the University of New South Wales. He subsequently completed a PhD in teratology, studying the effect of drugs on neural tube development where he commenced his O&G training at Addenbrooke’s & Rosie Maternity Hospitals, Cambridge, from 1992 to 1993. He then returned to Australia and commenced as a Registrar at King George V Hospital in Sydney. He developed an interest in high-risk obstetrics and was appointed as a Fellow in Maternal-Fetal Medicine 1996 and a Staff Specialist (Maternal-Fetal Medicine) in 1997. He was appointed Associate Professor in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong from 1998 until 1999, then returned to Sydney and became a partner at Sydney Ultrasound for Women and was appointed a Senior Visiting Medical Officer, Department of High-Risk Obstetrics at Royal Prince Alfred & King George V Hospitals in 2000. He was elevated to Head of Department in 2005, a position that he held until 2008 and remained an active member of the visiting staff until his passing.

Greg was awarded the Diploma of Diagnostic Ultrasound in 1997 and obtained RANZCOG Fellowship in 1998 and was Certified in Maternal-Fetal Medicine in 2000. In 2006, he was appointed to the Board of Examiners, Membership Examinations at RANZCOG and subsequently served several terms on College Council and was a past Chair of the Professionalism and Ethics Committee.

From the early years of his consultant practice, Greg voluntarily devoted great energy to ethics, hospital and practice standards and advancing the regulation of medical practice in a quality framework through his involvement in the NSW Medical Board where he was appointed to the Conduct Committee in 2002 and ultimately assumed the Chair in 2011. He was also passionate about sharing his knowledge of the regulatory environment in healthcare and went to great lengths to ensure the NSW Medical Council’s programs to assist doctors and students were accessible and well understood.

He was a scholar, won numerous awards and was a fitting recipient of several travel fellowships that helped ensure Australian practice in ultrasound, high risk obstetrics and fetal medicine in both the public and private sectors could be maintained at world-class standard.

Greg’s main clinical interests were in the areas of intrauterine fetal therapy and the management of complex pregnancies, particularly multiple pregnancies, and in these areas he collected a vast cohort of patients in both the public and private sectors who valued his ‘hands on’ management above all else. He was particularly gifted in his ability to council patients in the most dire of circumstances and guide them through their traumas with his clinical expertise and compassion.

He was also an excellent teacher who guided both clinicians as well as sonographers through both specialist and subspecialty training with his intellect, enthusiasm for his discipline and engaging personality, as well as a wicked sense of humour, making it a pleasure to work with and learn from him.

As a man he was highly intelligent but modest, hilarious but appropriately serious when the situation called for gravitas. He loved food, wine and travel which was sadly denied him in this past year due to illness and Covid.

He was greatly loved by family, friends, colleagues, and patients, all of whom will miss the presence of this completely unique person.

He will be particularly missed by the staff at Sydney Ultrasound for Medicine and the Fetal Medicine Department at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital as well as his daughter Hanna and partner Vanessa.

Vale Greg.

 

Dr Thomas Mackenzie Fiddes (1939–2021)

Tom sadly died on 27 September 2021, following a short illness with pancreatic cancer. He graduated in medicine from the University of Otago in 1966 and spent his early postgraduate life in Christchurch, where he completed his Diploma of Obstetrics. He and his wife, Chris, had planned to travel to Canada to start his life as a GP but, on an overland trip from India to England, Chris discovered she was pregnant with their second child. With the need to stay in the UK for Chris to give birth, Tom decided to change direction and specialise in O&G. His first position was at the George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton before completing his membership studies at the Walsgrave Hospital in Coventry. At the Walsgrave hospital, he had an early introduction to an ultrasound machine and, when he returned to New Zealand in 1974 as a Senior Lecturer with the University of Otago and Dunedin Hospital, he introduced this amazing new technology to NZ obstetric practice. Tom performed all the obstetric ultrasound examinations before radiology eventually took it over. He reflected ‘from black and white still shots painted and displayed on an oscilloscope, where we were lucky to see the placenta, we progressed through to fine anatomical detail and physiological measurements allowing credible comment on fetal wellbeing’.

He was a consummate obstetrician and excellent surgeon, and the hospital awarded him a clinical excellence award. He embraced the early days of laparoscopy, and one of his early research papers was on the use of intraperitoneal local anaesthesia as pain prophylaxis for sterilisation, this being incorporated into the RCOG Best Practice Guidelines.

He was interested in the physical surrounds of birth and headed up a group that set up the first birthing unit in a public hospital in NZ. When the Hospital Board announced its intention to close the Queen Mary site, he vigorously led a public response that attracted many hundreds of people marching down George St. Alas this fell on deaf ears, and Tom’s beloved birthing unit was no more.

He had a passion for teaching at all levels, but he will be remembered for developing the first distance teaching program for the Diploma of Obstetrics. This ultimately became a collaborative exercise between all three O&G Departments at the University of Otago [Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin] and from 2000, the University of Auckland. The current teaching programs in the Postgraduate Diploma in Obstetrics and Medical Gynaecology and the Postgraduate Certificate in Women’s Health have been modelled on Tom’s original work and are his lasting legacy. At the College, he was a member of the RANZCOG Council and was involved in the introduction of continuing medical education for the Fellows.

After 33 years with the University of Otago, Tom’s natural talent for developing teaching programs took him to the Fiji School of Medicine, where he spent five years as a team leader in the development of their postgraduate training project. In 2003, he joined the Grey Base Hospital in Greymouth as Consultant and Intern Supervisor and then as Academic Director of the Rural Learning Centre, until retiring in 2015.

He married Chris in 1965 and is survived by her, two children (Grant and Kirsty) and two granddaughters.

 

Dr Victor Thompson White (1925–2021)

Victor White died peacefully on 1 August this year at the age of 96. For those in the medical community who knew him, he would be considered a West Australian legend. He was born in Western Australia, and attended Nedlands Primary, Claremont Central, and Perth Modern Schools. After his first year at the University of Western Australia, he completed his medical degree with honours at the University of Melbourne, where he resided at Ormond College. After an internship in Melbourne, he took up resident positions at Fremantle and King Edward Memorial Hospitals (KEMH), before travelling to the UK to undertake specialist training. He returned to Perth in 1954 as one of its first specialists in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, thus commencing a long and distinguished career dedicated to the practice, promotion, and development of O&G in Western Australia.

Vic’s name will always be associated with KEMH, where he was an honorary or visiting consultant for 38 years. He participated in or chaired many hospital committees and services including the Clinical Association and Hospital Board. His pivotal role in establishing and supporting the Oncology service at King Edward Memorial is widely recognised. He was a tutor and examiner for The University of Western Australia, a member of the State Council of the AMA, and undertook many regional and national College roles. He became a foundation Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and a member of its first council. He served on or advised many other state committees and spent 16 years in the Australian Army Citizens Military Force, attaining the rank of major. In 2008, he was awarded Membership of the Order of Australia (AM), ‘for service to medicine in the fields of obstetrics and gynaecology through clinical, teaching and administrative roles and contributions to a range of professional organisations’. Vic will be remembered fondly and gratefully by many thousands of patients, and many hundreds of medical students, midwives, residents, registrars, general practitioners, and co-consultants who he taught or mentored. He was renowned not only for his clinical skills but also for the respect, courtesy, and kindness that he showed to all.

Vic’s sporting achievements are less well known, yet he won the WA state schoolboys’ hurdles in 1942, setting a record he held for nine years. During the wartime years he played for Claremont in the underage West Australian Football League. At Ormond he earned a Hockey ‘blue’ and was selected in the combined Australian Universities Hockey team. With his flaming red hair and his name ‘White’, he was often affectionately known as ‘Red, White, and Blue’. He continued to play for the University Associates Hockey team in Perth.

Vic was loved by virtually all who knew him. He is much mourned by his wife Rhoda – with whom he had a long, loving, and successful marriage for over 67 years – by his children Phillip, Jane, Michael and Stephen, his grandchildren Tristan, Emma, Sophie, Cait, Cam, Thomas and Sarah, and his step grandchildren James, Mathew and Jessica. He is mourned also by me, who knew him as a teacher and father-in law, and his three daughters-in law, Carol, Kim, and Maureen, along with his great grandchildren, his extended family, and wide circle of friends. He instilled in his family his love of life and knowledge, and supported and encouraged them in all their endeavours, leaving a wonderful legacy.

Neville Gibbs
MBBS, MD (UWA), FANZCA, MSc (Oxon)

 

Remembering our Fellows

Our College acknowledges the life and career of Fellows that have passed away:

  • Dr Victor Thompson White, WA, August 2021
  • Dr Thomas Mackenzie Fiddes, NZ, September 2021
  • Dr Gregory John Kesby, NSW, October 2021
  • Dr James (Tim) Jeffery, WA, October 2021
  • Dr Justin Frederick Nasser, Qld, November 2021

 


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