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Biographical entry Smiddy, Francis Geoffrey (1922 - 2003)

MRCS and FRCS 1950; MB ChB Leeds 1944; ChM 1960; LRCP 1950.

4 January 1922
Kendal, UK
8 March 2003
General surgeon


Geoff Smiddy was a senior surgeon at Leeds General Infirmary and a prolific author. He was born in Kendal on 4 January 1922. His father was a hotelier and his mother looked after a haberdashery shop. His was not an easy childhood – his father left the family home shortly after he was born and his mother had difficulties making ends meet. He entered Leeds Medical School in 1939, where he won the Brotherton senior award, was President of the union, and served on the medical school council. He was a house surgeon to George Armitage, whom he regarded as his surgical mentor.

He spent three years in the RAMC, mostly in India. During this time he developed rheumatic endocarditis, which damaged his aortic valve. On his return from India, he became a surgical registrar, then a senior registrar and later a tutor at Leeds Infirmary.

In 1957, he won a research fellowship to Harvard Medical School, where he worked under Jacob Fine, a pioneer in the care of the critically ill, carrying out research into the significance of enteric bacteria as a cause of mortality in haemorrhagic shock, which led to his ChM.

On his return from America, he was senior lecturer to J C Goligher, and in 1961 was appointed consultant surgeon at Leeds General Infirmary, as well as to Seacroft and Clayton Hospitals.

He was deeply committed to teaching and training. He was a true general surgeon and an excellent and enthusiastic clinical teacher, preferring the bedside to the lecture theatre.

He was elected to the Court of Examiners in 1967 and became a fine ambassador for the College. He was the first regional adviser for surgery in Yorkshire and in 1978 became an examiner in pathology for the primary. He was the author of several surgical textbooks, including The medical management of the surgical patientt (London, Edward Arnold, 1976) and a series of books entitled Tutorials in surgery.

He retired in 1987, but remained active in local surgical circles, regularly attended weekly surgical meetings and was a staunch supporter of the Leeds Regional Surgical Club.

He was a keen golfer, bridge player, and a student of needlework, silver-smithing and computing. He married Thelma (‘Penny’) Penfold, a radiographer at Leeds Infirmary, in 1951. They had a son (Paul) and a daughter (Clare), and four grandchildren. He underwent an aortic valve replacement in 1975. He died on 8 March 2003.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2003 327 108, with portrait; information from John MacFie.].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England