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Biographical entry Macafee, Alastair Lowry (1935 - 2010)

MB BCh BAO Belfast 1959; MD 1962; FRCS 1967; FRCSI 1988.

11 January 1935
Belfast, UK
26 July 2010
Orthopaedic surgeon


Alastair Lowry Macafee was a consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He was born on 11 January 1935 in Belfast, the son of Charles Horner Greer Macafee, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Queen's University, and Margaret Crymble Macafee née Lowry. His maternal grandfather, Charles Gibson Lowry, was also professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Queen's, and was one of the founders of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Macafee was educated at Rockport Preparatory School and then Trinity College, Glenalmond, Perthshire. He went on to study medicine at Queen's University, Belfast, qualifying MB BCh BAO in 1959. At medical school he won the Malcolm scholarship and later recorded that he was influenced by Graham Bull, Ted Lewis, Harold Rodgers, Sir John Biggart and "naturally one's father!"

He held house posts at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, and then became a tutor in pathology. He subsequently trained in general surgery in Ulster for five years, and in orthopaedic surgery for another five years in Belfast and with the Northern Ireland Orthopaedic Service. He gained his MD in 1962, studying the relationship between blood group and type one diabetes, and his FRCS in 1967. He was appointed as a consultant trauma and orthopaedic surgeon to the Ulster, Musgrave Park and Ards hospitals. He later served as medical director at the Ulster and Musgrave Park. He retired in 1995.

He was president of the Irish Orthopaedic Association from 1995 to 1997, and president of the Northern Ireland Medico-legal Society.

His main orthopaedic interests were hip replacement and traumatic injury to joints. He believed passionately in the 'no touch' technique, which he used in his total hip replacement operations, of which he did over 1,000. He published articles on a wide range of topics, including fractures of the femoral neck, cervical spine injuries in schoolboy rugby players and ankle injuries.

Outside medicine, he enjoyed gardening, golf and woodwork. He represented Queen's University at shooting. He was vice chairmen of the board of governors at Bangor Grammar School for many years.

In 1970 he married Audrey Wilson, a nurse, and the daughter of two surgeons, Cecil Wilson and Margaret Gregg. They had four children - Jeremy, Margaret, David and Barbara, and three grandchildren. Two of his children have followed him into medicine. Alastair Lowry Macafee died on 26 July 2010, aged 75, from metastatic oesophageal carcinoma

Sarah Gillam

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2010 341 5435; Ulster Med J 2012;81(2):91-6].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England