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Biographical entry Smart, Graham Frederick (1915 - 2011)

MNZM 2004; MB BS London 1940; MRCS 1940; FRCS 1947; FRACS 1958.

8 November 1915
Croydon, Surrey, UK
December 2011
General surgeon


Graham Smart was a general surgeon at Wairau Hospital, Blenheim, New Zealand. He was born in Croydon, Surrey, on 8 November 1915, the son of Sidney William Smart, a railway executive, and Lilian Smart née Bachelar. He attended elementary school in Croydon and went on to Selhurst Grammar School. As a teenager he developed osteomyelitis in his left upper tibia, underwent several operations and was left with damage to his ligaments and knee joint, but the experience did influence his decision to become a doctor. He trained at Guy's Hospital, qualifying MB BS in 1940.

After a post as a house surgeon at the Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford, he decided on a surgical career. He was rejected for military service in the Second World War due to his knee disability. From 1941 to 1947 he trained in general surgery, including a year as a demonstrator in anatomy at Guy's and four years at East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital.
He gained his FRCS in 1947.

He decided to emigrate to New Zealand and was appointed as medical superintendent and surgeon at Westland Hospital, Hokitika, in 1948. Two years later he transferred to Wairau Hospital, where he quickly reorganised and expanded the hospital, helping with the design and development of a new clinical services block, ward block and a theatre complex, now named in his honour. As well as tackling a large administrative burden, he managed to fit in the work of a full-time surgeon. He was particularly interested in orthopaedic surgery and was supported by weekly visits from the Wellington orthopaedic surgeons.

Outside medicine he enjoyed music, drama and the arts. He was chairman of the Chamber Music Society from 1959 to 1970, and president of the repertory theatre from 1961 to 1969 and a life member from 1977. He also directed and acted in plays.

In 2003 he was awarded the MNZM (member of the New Zealand Order of Merit) for his services to medicine and the community.

In 1944 he married Ann and they had three sons, but the marriage failed shortly after the family emigrated to New Zealand. In 1950 he married Jean, a South African nurse. They went on to have four daughters.

He had bought two acres of land in the Queen Charlotte Sound during his early years in New Zealand and, when he retired in 1980, he and Jean built a new house there, where they enjoyed a long and happy retirement. He died in December 2011, aged 96.

Sarah Gillam

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons - In Memoriam - accessed 8 January 2014].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England