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Biographical entry Tuffley, Donald James (1923 - 2007)

MB BS Queensland 1946; FRCS 1952; FRACS 1973.

10 November 1923
Atherton, Queensland, Australia
25 December 2007
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Orthopaedic surgeon


Donald James Tuffley was a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Royal Brisbane Hospital. He was born in Atherton, Queensland, Australia, the son of Henry Joseph Tuffley, a bank manager, and Winifred Tuffley née Cochrane. He was educated at Mackay High School and Toowoomba Grammar School. He then won an open scholarship to the University of Queensland. He qualified MB BS in 1946.

He was a resident at the Royal Brisbane Hospital and, in October 1950, travelled to England as a ship's surgeon. He was an orthopaedic registrar at Bart's and then at Sheffield Royal Infirmary, where he worked with Sir Frank Holdsworth. Here he developed his interest in the spine.

In 1954 he was appointed as superintendant of Toowoomba Base Hospital. In 1956 he became an orthopaedic supervisor at the Royal Brisbane Hospital; a year later he became a consultant there, a post he held until 1988. From 1957 to 1997 he was a visiting orthopaedic surgeon at St Andrew's War Memorial Hospital, also in Brisbane.

He had a special interest in scoliosis, and established the first clinic in Queensland for the condition. He was heavily involved in teaching, not just orthopaedics but also physiotherapy; he was granted an honorary physiotherapy degree from the University of Queensland in recognition of his work on the undergraduate degree course. In 1967 he spent three months in Indonesia training orthopaedic surgeons. Two years later, during the Vietnam War, he spent four months in Vietnam at Bien Hoa, providing orthopaedic services to civilians.

He was president of the Queensland branch of the Australian Orthopaedic Association in 1981 and 1982, and president of the Facet Club (which later became the Spine Society of Australia) in 1983.

Outside medicine, he was interested in reading (particularly history), fishing (especially in the remote regions of Australia) and tennis. He was a life member of the Brisbane Club.

He married June Lyndsay Firth in 1951. They had four children: John Charles (an orthopaedic surgeon), Robert James (a GP), Susan Louise (a physiotherapist and businesswoman) and David Stuart (a dentist).

Donald James Tuffley died on Christmas Day 2007. He was 84.

Sarah Gillam

The Royal college of Surgeons of England Library