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Biographical entry Kirk, John (1922 - 2011)

MB BS London 1945; FRCS 1954; FRCS Edin 1973.

23 June 1922
5 May 2011
Plastic surgeon


John Kirk was a consultant plastic surgeon at the Tayside Regional Plastic Surgery Unit. He was born in Edinburgh on 23 June 1922, but spent most of the first six years of his life in China, where his mother and father, also John Kirk, were medical missionaries. The family returned to the UK in 1928 and his father went on to become professor of anatomy at the Middlesex Hospital, London. John Kirk trained at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School and qualified in 1945.

After posts at the Middlesex, he joined the Royal Navy as a surgeon and saw active service in the West Indies. He trained and qualified as a general surgeon, gaining his FRCS in 1954. He then moved on to plastic and reconstructive surgery, working with Rainsford Mowlem at Northwood.

In 1955 he moved back to Scotland, to Bangour Hospital in West Lothian, where the regional plastic surgery unit serving Edinburgh and the east of Scotland was based. Here he worked with Alexander 'Alister' Burns Wallace.

In 1956 the Tayside Plastic Surgery Service was started at the Dundee Royal Infirmary and Bridge of Earn Hospital, near Perth, as an off-shoot of the unit headed by Wallace. John Kirk joined this service, and in 1960 was made a full-time consultant in plastic surgery to the Eastern Regional Hospital Board. He took a leading role in the design of the new burns and plastic surgery ward at the Bridge of Earn Hospital and also 10 beds at the Dundee Royal Infirmary. John worked single-handed for 10 years until 1970. In 1973 he was made a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He retired in 1983.

John was a highly-respected, tireless and meticulous surgeon. He was an inspiring teacher for his trainees, but a strict disciplinarian. He was impeccably mannered and modest.

He played cricket, rugby and squash, and, in later life, took up hill walking, fishing and golf (he was a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews). He was also a bird watcher and watercolour artist, but above all he was a family man. He died on 5 May 2011, aged 88, and was survived by his wife Elaine and three children - Rose, Susan and John.

Brian Morgan

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Scotsman 7 July 2011 - accessed 7 May 2015; BMJ 2011 343 4763 - accessed 7 May 2015; JPRAS December 2011, Vol 64, Issue 12, pp.1551-2 - accessed 7 May 2015].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England