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Biographical entry Yelland, John Douglas Newman (1928 - 2000)

MRCS and FRCS 1955; MB BS Queensland 1951; FRACS 1961.

11 August 1928
Roma, Queensland, Australia
1 September 2000


John Yelland was a neurosurgeon at the Royal Brisbane Hospital, Queensland , Australia. He was born in Roma, Central Queensland on 11th August 1928. After a primary education in State schools he attended All Souls Anglican School, Charters Towers, where he was house captain and dux of the school in 1945. He was awarded a scholarship to the University of Queensland and graduated in medicine in 1951. After a term of residency at the then Brisbane General Hospital, he decided to become a surgeon and travelled to Britain to study for the fellowship of the College. He was awarded the Hallet Prize for highest marks in the primary examination and passed the final in 1955.

When he returned to Brisbane in 1957, John joined a neurosurgical unit which had been founded by Kenneth G Jamieson the previous year. They had a heavy workload of operative neurosurgery largely due to road accidents, and their published work on the results of operations for traumatic intracranial haematomas was said by a colleague to 'remain a gold standard some 30 plus years on'.

On the premature death of Jamieson in 1976, John became head of department - a position he held for the next 20 years, continuing also to run a private practice. He was chairman of the Medical Staff Association of the Royal Brisbane Hospital from 1985 to 1986. He worked for the Medical Defence Society of Queensland and served as a Council member, president and secretary. A long serving member of the Neurosurgical Society of Australia, he was awarded their Jamieson medal in 1992. Having passed the fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 1961 he served on the state committee and was a member of the court of examiners from 1976 to1986.

While studying in the UK he met Dr Margaret Chitty, who was working as a senior house officer in paediatrics, and they married on 26th November 1955. They had five children, Philippa, Catherine, Michael, David and Stephen.

John was a dextrous, highly competent surgeon and an excellent clinician. It was said of him that 'his case notes, written with a Mont Blanc fountain pen, were concise, highly relevant to the problem and always legible.' He died unexpectedly of a myocardial infarction, while on holiday in Wales on 1st September 2000, at the age of 72. He was survived by his wife, children and several grandchildren.

Tina Craig

Sources used to compile this entry: [Jour Clin Neurosci, 2001, 8 (1), 101].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England