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Biographical entry Jardine, James Lewis (1929 - 2012)

MRCS and FRCS 1958; MB ChB Otago 1953; FRACS 1962.

13 August 1929
Wairoa, New Zealand
25 August 2012
General surgeon


Jim Jardine was a gifted general surgeon, a kind and compassionate doctor who practised in Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand. He loved the people and had an extraordinary gift for remembering patients' names. Moreover, he had a special rapport with his Maori patients and their families. One of his colleagues, a pathologist, said of him: 'He instinctively knew when to operate and when to wait, his judgement was always sound.'

Jim was born in Wairoa, on the North Island, on 13 August 1929, the son of a hard-working and very popular general practitioner, Edmund Basil Jardine, and his wife Nancy née Stock. Jim was the oldest of the family and had two sisters, Beverley and Anne.

Jim went to the local primary school and then to Wanganui Collegiate School, a private boys' school with boarding and day pupils. Founded in 1852, it has strong links with the Anglican Church. Here he had a good academic reputation, and was also known for his sporting prowess. He was particularly grateful to Gordon McBeath, his piano teacher, who instilled in him a lifelong love of and interest in music.

From secondary school he entered Otago University in 1947. He graduated in 1953, with an award for his final year thesis on 'The Maori mother and her child'. His wiry physique allowed him to play rugby to a good level at scrum-half for the university team.

Shortly after qualifying, he married a stunning blonde, Janet Waterworth ('Jan'), a neonatal nurse and the only daughter of a Hawkes Bay farmer, Mason Waterworth and his wife Margaret née Alexander. Jim and Jan were a perfectly matched couple and ideal parents for their family of five.

Jim did a series of preliminary posts in New Zealand, before sailing to the United Kingdom to gain more surgical experience. He was fortunate to obtain an excellent two-year post at the Central Middlesex Hospital, London, where he was supervised by Peter Gummer, a general surgeon who worked closely with Sir Francis Avery-Jones, the well-known gastroenterologist. J D Fergusson, a pioneer urologist, and a founder member of the British Association of Urological Surgeons, also tutored him in urology.

Perhaps through Peter Gummer's influence, Jim then went to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and the Jenny Lind Hospital for Children as a surgical registrar. He gained a wealth of experience in general surgery, urology, vascular and paediatric conditions and emergency neurosurgery. After passing the FRCS in 1958, he, Jan and their first three children returned to New Zealand in 1960.

For a year he took a temporary post as a surgeon at the Cook Hospital, Gisborne, but in 1961 he left for Auckland, to assess a post as a surgeon with the Auckland Hospital Board. Fortunately, he called in to see one of his former class mates, Murray McDonald, who casually mentioned that there was a surgical position available at the Rotorua Hospital. He called in to see the then superintendent, Eric Bridgeman. Jim was immediately appointed as surgeon to the Rotorua Hospital, where he soon became director of surgery.

In 1962 a small private hospital closed, so Jim, with other medical consultants and general practitioners and in conjunction with the local business community, set up a private hospital 'St Andrews', which opened in 1965. He was appointed as medical director and continued to serve the community well in both hospitals until he retired in 1996. During this busy practical life he wrote just one joint publication: 'Acute appendicitis in a premature infant: a case report' (Aust N Z J Surg.1971 May; 40[4]: 362-4).

Active in the local community, Jim became president of the Bay of Plenty Camellia Society, chairman of Rotorua Primary School Board Trust in the 1960s and a committee member for the Outward Bound Trust in the 1970s. In 1974 he became chairman of the Rotorua Taupo division of the New Zealand Medical Association. At a national level, he served on the education subcommittee of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

In spite of developing rheumatoid arthritis in his twenties, for which excision of both radial heads proved necessary to aid mobility, Jim kept up a very busy surgical practice and oversaw the introduction of joint replacement, laparoscopic surgery and the developing field of imaging in radiology.

He guided his five children in their respective careers and encouraged them to become independent, stressing to the girls that they should follow their interests before embarking on marriage. Phillipa, the first born, became a lawyer. David is a physician in New Zealand. Catherine became a nurse. Hamish is a winemaker, and the youngest, Sara, became a dentist.

Jan and Jim were both very keen workers in their large garden, and developed a special interest in camellias, which they grafted and propagated. Jan had access to a family estate, Crab Farm in Napier, so-called because it was raised above sea level in the 1931 Napier earthquake. Jim started to grow grapes there in 1989, and after two years he was joined by Hamish. Together they developed Crab Farm winery into an excellent award-winning enterprise, exporting wine overseas.

Jim was a committed family man and enjoyed camping and trout fishing. Each year he and Jan took the family to the beach for three weeks' holiday in the summer and, in the winter, for a week-long holiday in a mountain hut for skiing. He played the piano of an evening to relax after a busy day's work, particularly the works of Chopin, Schumann and Debussy. Playing music well by ear, he was ready to accompany anyone wishing to sing at a party. He enjoyed going to the opera, musicals and plays. Interested in Darwin's theories on evolution, he read widely, particularly on New Zealand and world history. A regular reader of the Guardian Weekly, he also kept abreast of European and world economic affairs.

He continued all his extracurricular activities into retirement, overcoming his rheumatoid arthritis until his health failed. He died on 25 August 2012, 12 days after his 83rd birthday, having celebrated his diamond wedding anniversary with Jan, and leaving his five children and their families.

N Alan Green
David Taylor
David Jardine

The Royal College of Surgeons of England