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Biographical entry Hanna, Ghassan Salem Suleiman (1949 - 2009)

FRCS 1982; MB BCh Cairo 1973.

19 October 1949
Nablus, Palestine
13 June 2009
ENT surgeon


Ghassan Hanna was a Palestinian who left his troubled homeland during the Six-Day War of 1967 to realise his dream of becoming a doctor; he subsequently made his home in Britain, where he became a successful ENT surgeon. He was born into a Palestinian Christian family in Nablus on 19 October 1949, one of 11 children of a primary school headmaster. Having dismissed his chances of becoming Pope, Ghassan decided, at the age of seven, to become a doctor. The Six-Day War proved to be the catalyst. Leaving home, with no money and unable to complete his school leaving examinations, he fled to Amman, where he was cared for by one of his aunts. With no physics qualification, he could not gain admission to Cairo Medical School, but was instead accepted at Alexandria Medical School, from where he was later able to transfer to Cairo. He qualified in 1973.

Hanna developed an interest in ENT surgery whilst practising in Dubai. His desire to return to Palestine was thwarted as his country was occupied, and he had discovered that he had not been included in the Israeli census. He decided to make his career in Britain and arrived in 1980. After obtaining the fellowship of the RCS and completing a registrar post at Wexham Park Hospital, Slough, he was, in 1988, appointed consultant ENT surgeon to the General Hospital (later the County Hospital) at Hereford. His special interest was head and neck cancer, and he delighted in teaching.

Hanna married, in 1976, Wafa Nemer Bishara, whose family also came from Nablus. He created a beautiful garden at his home in the village of Clehonger near Hereford and took pleasure in his proficiency at Middle Eastern cuisine. In 2007 he retired from the NHS, but sadly died from a heart attack on 13 June 2009, as he and his wife were preparing for their joint 60th and 50th birthday party. He is survived by his wife, their son, who is a communications manager at Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals, and three daughters, all of whom are doctors.

Neil Weir

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Daily Telegraph 22 June 2009; BMJ 2010 340 169].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England