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Biographical entry Eddey, Howard Hadfield (1910 - 2004)

CMG; MRCS and FRCS 1938; BSc MB BS Melbourne 1934; FRACS 1941; FACS 1964.

3 September 1910
Melbourne, Australia
16 September 2004
ENT surgeon


Howard Eddey was a former professor of surgery at Melbourne University. He was born on 3 September 1910, in Melbourne. His father was Charles Howard Eddey, a manager, and his mother was Rachel Beatrice née Hadfield, the daughter of a teacher. He was educated at Melbourne High School, where he was captain of boats and featured in many winning crews. He was also in the school lacrosse team. He went on to the University of Melbourne, where he won a university blue. He was subsequently a resident at the Royal Melbourne Hospital for two years. He then went to the UK, where he studied for his FRCS, winning the Hallet prize in the process.

During the second world war he served in the Australian Imperial Force with the 2/13 Australian General Hospital, becoming a Major in the Australian Army Medical Corps. He was captured by the Japanese and spent time in prisoner of war camps in Changi and then in North Borneo. While he was captured he was involved in 'kangkong' harvesting and the treating of a local wild vegetable, to produce a drink that was rich in vitamins. Howard made sure the soldiers drank this frequently, as it reduced the incidence of beriberi and pellagra. During his time in captivity Howard also wrote notes on anatomy on scrap paper. This later became a key anatomy text, used by generations of medical students.

He returned to the Royal Melbourne Hospital after the war as an honorary surgeon. He was dean of the clinical school there from 1965 to 1967. As a clinician he gained an impressive reputation as a head and neck surgeon. In particular his parotid gland surgery and cancer work with radical neck dissection gained considerable prominence.

In 1966 the University of Melbourne decided to establish a third clinical school at the Austin Hospital and Eddey was invited to become the foundation professor of surgery. He had no background in research, but recruited a team of young surgeons with research skills and the research reputation of the department of surgery was rapidly established. In 1971 Eddey became dean and held this position until 1975. He was a member of the board of management from 1971 to 1977, and was vice-president from 1975 to 1977. In honour of his contribution to the development of Austin as a clinical school, the new operating theatres and library have been named after him.

Eddey was regarded as an outstanding teacher and, through his role with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS), helped surgical education in South East Asia. He made many visits to Asian hospitals and was involved with examinations and giving lectures. The RACS created the Howard Eddey medal in recognition of his work in Asia. He was a member of the board of examiners at the RACS from 1958 to 1973, and was chairman from 1968 to 1973. He was a member of council from 1967 to 1975 and served as honorary librarian from 1968 to 1975.

He served on many other bodies, including the Cancer Institute and the Anti Cancer Council. His service to the community was recognised by his appointment as honorary surgeon to Prince Charles and he was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George.

He was married to Alice née Paul from Kew, Victoria, for 30 years. They had three children - Robert Michael, Peter and Pamela Ann. Eddey died on 16 September 2004.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Melbourne High School Old Boys' Association news (].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England