Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry MacFarlane, Campbell (1941 - 2006)

FRCS; BSc MB ChB St Andrews 1965; MMed Singapore 1971; FRCS Edin 1971; FACS; Hon FACE (Hon); MRACMA; DMCC; FFAEM; FRAeS FCS (SA); FIFEM; FCEM (SA).

16 October 1941
Kirriemuir, Scotland
7 June 2006
New York, USA
Trauma surgeon


Campbell MacFarlane was a trauma surgeon who served with distinction in the Royal Army Medical Corps, before emigrating to South Africa, where he became the foundation professor of emergency medicine at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. He was born on 16 October 1941 in Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland, the son of George MacFarlane and Anne Christessen Gove Lowe, and was educated at Webster’s High School, Kirriemuir. He gained a Kitchener scholarship and attended the University of St Andrews, graduating with commendation in 1965. While at university he gained several distinctions and medals, including a student scholarship to Yale University for the summer term of 1964.

After house jobs he joined the RAMC, where he won medals for military studies, military surgery, tropical medicine, army health and military psychiatry from the Royal Army Medical College. He was then posted to Singapore, where, in 1971, he was the first westerner to obtain the MMed in surgery from the University of Singapore. He passed the FRCS Edinburgh in the same year.

Over the next decade he worked in civilian and military hospitals in Catterick, Eastern General Hospital (Edinburgh), Musgrave Park Hospital (Belfast), Cambridge Military Hospital (Aldershot), Birmingham Accident Hospital, Guy’s Hospital (London), Queen Alexandra Military Hospital (Millbank), Queen Elizabeth Military Hospital (Woolwich), Westminster Hospital, St Mark’s Hospital (London), as well as the British military hospitals in Rinteln, Berlin, Hannover and Iserlohn in Germany. He saw active service in Oman, Belize and Belfast while commanding a parachute field surgical team. In Northern Ireland he performed life-saving surgery not only on soldiers but also on members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The parachute unit was also deployed on NATO exercises in the UK, Germany, Norway, Denmark and Turkey. Finally, he was appointed senior lecturer in military surgery at the Royal Army Medical College, Millbank, where his lectures were avidly attended. He was a contributor to the Field surgery pocket book (London, HMSO, 1981) and carried out research at the Porton Down Research Establishment, which benefitted from his extensive battle surgery experience.

He retired as a lieutenant colonel after 16 years active service. He was appointed chief of surgery at the Al Zahra Hospital in the United Arab Emirates in 1981 and there proceeded to set up its first private hospital. In 1984 he accepted the position of chief of surgery and director of emergency room services at the Royal Commission Hospital in Saudi Arabia.

Two years later, in 1986, he moved to Johannesburg to become senior specialist in the trauma unit at Johannesburg Hospital and senior lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, as well as principal of the Transvaal Provincial Administration Ambulance Training College. A decade later he became head of emergency medical services training for the Gauteng Provincial Government, South Africa, and in 2004 he was appointed to the founding Netcare chair of emergency medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Campbell maintained his international contacts and visited the UK regularly. After gaining the diploma with distinction in the medical care of catastrophes from the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London, he lectured on their course and became an examiner. Campbell was a member of the editorial boards of Trauma, Emergency Medicine and the Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps. In 1999 he was the Mitchiner lecturer to the Royal Army Medical Corps and in 2000 gave the Hunterian lecture at the College on the management of gunshot wounds.

He was a founder member and chairman of the Emergency Medicine Society of South Africa. He was elected as a fellow of the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine, a fellow of the Faculty of Emergency Medicine (UK) and a founding fellow of the Faculty of Pre-hospital Care at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

His many outside interests included scuba diving, military history, languages (Afrikaans, French and Spanish), martial arts and sailing. He married Jane Fretwell in 1966, by whom he had two daughters (Catriona and Alexina) and a son (Robert). They were divorced in 1986. He died unexpectedly at JFK Airport in New York on 7 June 2006 while returning from representing South Africa at a meeting of the International Federation for Emergency Medicine in Halifax, Canada.

Sources used to compile this entry: [J Emerg Med 2006 8 4; information from Jane MacFarlane].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England