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Biographical entry Helal, Basil (1927 - 2007)

MRCS 1951; FRCS 1978; MB BS London 1951; MCh Orth Liverpool 1962; LRCP 1951; FRCS Edinburgh 1960.

28 October 1927
Cairo, Egypt
17 July 2007
Orthopaedic surgeon


Basil Helal was an orthopaedic surgeon at Enfield, as well as at the London and Royal National Orthopaedic hospitals. He was born in Cairo on 28 October 1927, the son of Ibrahim Helal, director general of the state railways, and Helena née Sommerville. He was educated at the English School in Cairo, where he won prizes for literature, science and mathematics, and then entered the London Hospital, where he swam for the hospital and the university.

After house appointments at the London, he became orthopaedic registrar to the United Liverpool Hospitals and then at the London, where he came under the influence of Sir Reginald Watson-Jones and Sir Henry Osmond-Clarke. He completed his orthopaedic training as a senior registrar at St George’s Hospital and the Woking and Chertsey Group of Hospitals, before his appointment as consultant orthopaedic surgeon to the Enfield Group of Hospitals in 1965. He remained at Enfield until 1988, in the meantime becoming an honorary consultant to the London Hospital and, towards the end of his career, consultant hand surgeon to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.

Basil Helal’s orthopaedic interests were wide, but he was particularly interested in the surgery of the hand and foot, and the surgical treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. He also had a long standing interest in sports injuries and was orthopaedic adviser to the British Olympic Association over five Olympics.

He was a member of innumerable medical societies at home and abroad, and a regular attendee at their meetings, holding high office in many of them, including the presidency of the orthopaedic section of the Royal Society of Medicine, the British Society for the Surgery of the Hand, and the Hunterian Society. He published extensively and contributed to several orthopaedic text books, and in retirement wrote a biography of the German surgeon Richard von Volkmann.

Basil was a good all-round sportsman with a charming personality which made him a popular life member of the Savage Club. He married Stella Feldman, a fellow junior doctor in 1952, with whom he had two daughters (Dina and Amanda) and a son (Adam). They divorced shortly before her death in 1977 and he married Susan Livett, a theatre sister, whom he had known for many years, with whom he had two sons (Matthew and Simon). He died at his retirement home in Dornoch, Scotland, on 17 July 2007, after several years of declining health.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England