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Biographical entry Haggart, Brian Gerard (1928 - 2014)

MB ChB Liverpool 1951; FRCS 1960; ChM 1963.

6 May 1928
31 January 2014
General surgeon


Brian Haggart was a consultant general surgeon at Walton and Fazakerley hospitals in Liverpool. He was born in Walton, Liverpool, on 6 May 1928, the eldest of three children. He had two younger, twin sisters, Shirley and Pauline. They were from a modest background; their father worked for Reece's Dairy in Liverpool. Brian was educated at St Francis De Sales Junior School and then by the Jesuits at St Francis Xavier School, where he attended from 1939 to 1946. This period included a brief evacuation to north Wales during the Second World War. When he was there the diet consisted mostly of rabbit, ensuring a life-long aversion to this particular delicacy.

A visit to hospital to have his appendix removed as an early teenager convinced him that surgery was his vocation. He gained a place to study medicine at Liverpool University in 1946 and graduated in 1951. He was a house officer at the Stanley and Whiston hospitals from 1951 to 1952. During his early years, two surgeons particularly influenced him - Stanley Unsworth, who he described as 'an outstanding surgeon who treated operative surgery as an exercise in anatomy', and Dicky Doyle, who he described as 'just brilliant'.

After National Service as a medical officer with the RAF (ironically he never flew in his entire life), he became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1960. This was followed by two years of research. His thesis 'The radio-isotope renogram' earned him a master of surgery degree in 1963.

Brian was appointed as a consultant surgeon at Walton Hospital in 1965, and later gained an appointment at Fazakerley Hospital. Further published work included a paper 'A general intensive therapy unit' (Br Med J. 1966 Jan 1;1[5478]:39-41), which shared experiences of acute medical and surgical cases at the Royal Southern Hospital in Liverpool. The paper recommended more widespread use of intensive care units (which at that time were relatively new), in the belief that they would 'prove indispensable in future hospital services'.

His main interests were abdominal, thyroid and urological surgery. His ward rounds were a time for many stories and many cigarettes! A colleague once recalled his comment about the welfare of the man who had had an open prostatectomy the day before - from the ward door he said 'he is sitting reading the newspaper so all is well!' He was respected by his colleagues for both his surgical and teaching skills. Many young surgeons benefited from watching his superb surgical technique. He retired in 1989.

Brian Haggart was a committed Catholic and was active in CAFOD (the official Catholic aid agency) in Liverpool for several years. His academic interests were extremely varied and included astronomy, physics and philosophy. More prosaic interests included storytelling (of the Tommy Cooper variety), The Daily Telegraph cryptic crossword (which he completed most days) and chess.

In December 2013 he received a certificate of life membership from the Liverpool Medical Institution, of which he was very proud. He died of lung cancer aged 85 on 31 January 2014 and was survived by his wife Columba Haggart (née Gilleran), who he married in 1955, his sister Pauline, a daughter, four sons and 11 grandchildren.

Anthony Haggart

Sources used to compile this entry: [Linda de Cossart; Fergus O'Connor; the Haggart family].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England