Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Young, George Ivan (1926 - 2009)

MRCS and FRCS 1956; MB BCh BAO Belfast 1949; FRCS Ed 1956.

15 May 1926
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
7 February 2009
General surgeon


George Young was a wise, quietly-spoken consultant general surgeon in Northern Ireland who commanded great respect. He worked for some 35 years at the Lagan Valley Hospital, Lisburn. His expertise in abdominal surgery, particularly the biliary tract, was well-known, but he was equally competent in other fields, including urology and thyroid surgery.

He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on 15 May 1926, the son of Robert James Young, a printer, and his wife, Ellen née Finlay, a tailoress and housewife. He had an older brother, Robert, who also trained as a doctor at Queen's University Belfast and became a consultant paediatrician in Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry. He was a squadron leader in the RAF Medical Corps and served during the Second World War in India.

George's primary schooling was at Fenn Street Primary School and he then went to the Methodist College, where he excelled in science subjects, but struggled with Latin. He entered Queen's University Belfast for his medical training and qualified in 1949. These early years were made more enjoyable by spending weekends and summer holidays in the country on relatives' farms. A love of the countryside was fostered and never deserted him.

Internships followed at the Royal Victoria Hospital, and before he started his surgical training he became a demonstrator of anatomy for two years. He was inspired by Norman Martin at Musgrave Park Hospital and wondered whether he should enter orthopaedic surgery, however the wider aspects of general surgery held greater appeal. He was particularly influenced by (Sir) Ian Fraser, senior consultant surgeon at the Royal Victoria Hospital. Both these surgeons were doyens of surgical innovation in Northern Ireland at the time he was training. Having defined his surgical pathway, he was also grateful for his training at the Lahey Clinic, Boston, Massachusetts, where he became a surgical fellow. A great interest in biliary surgery was fostered by Cattell and many others then in their prime and gaining world recognition.

He completed his training in Northern Ireland, although he received tempting offers to stay in the USA. He was appointed as a consultant general surgeon to the Lagan Valley Hospital, Lisburn, in 1962. Following his experiences in Boston at the Lahey Clinic, he became the first surgeon in Northern Ireland to perform a 'Whipple's' operation for pancreatic tumour. Fond of teaching, his techniques, honed over the years, were admired and adopted by his assistants to whom he gave loyal support. He remained a keen member of the Ulster Surgical Society.

He married Mary née Kernohan, a hospital biochemist, on 3 December 1957. They honeymooned on the Queen Mary on the outward journey to the USA before he took up his fellowship at the Lahey Clinic. They had one son, Michael, who followed his father into medicine and is a consultant urologist to the Craigavon Area Hospital, Portadown, County Armagh, Northern Ireland.

George had many interests outside medicine. Although he played golf, his main interest was in the equine world. He was medical superintendent and medical officer at the Maze Race Course, the main sporting venue in Northern Ireland. At races he went to enjoy the occasion and was a knowledgeable student of the 'form' of horses, but never placed a bet. Point-to-points were family occasions, but his real passion was hunting. A member of two local hunts, he kept his interest alive and active for many years. Wednesday morning lists were always finished with skill and on time. His wife, Mary, would have Atlas, the 17-hand hunter, prepared and in the horse-box ready to go by lunchtime. He was knowledgeable on the breeding of horses. Later in life he bought a 'hobby' farm as a continuation of his love of the countryside, and had a dozen or so cattle. He was a life member of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society.

George Young died on 7 February 2009 of bronchopneumonia. His funeral was held at First Lisburn Presbyterian Church and he was buried at Rashee Cemetery, Ballyclare. He was survived by his wife, Mary, his son Michael, daughter-in-law Judith, and two grandchildren, Blair and Alexandra.

N Alan Green

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Michael R A Young, Terence Irwin].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England