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Biographical entry Macafee, Charles Horner Greer (1898 - 1978)

CBE 1961; MRCS and FRCS 1927; MB BCh BAO Belfast 1921; Hon DCL 1974; FRCSI 1927; foundation FRCOG 1929; Hon FRCPI 1977.

23 July 1898
Omagh, County Tyrone
16 August 1978
Obstetrician and gynaecologist


Charles Horner Greer Macafee, a son of the manse, was born at Omagh, County Tyrone, on 23 July 1898 and educated at Omagh Academy and Foyle College, Londonderry. In 1916 he entered the faculty of medicine in the Queen's University, Belfast, where he graduated in 1921, MB BCh BAO. In 1927 he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. His long, faithful, and devoted service to Queen's University started in 1922 when he was made a demonstrator in physiology. He set out upon his chosen career in obstetrics and gynaecology the following year, when he became tutor in midwifery and in due course part-time lecturer in midwifery and gynaecology. In 1945 he was appointed Professor of Midwifery and Gynaecology and held this post until his retirement in 1963. He was an outstanding clinician and unusually skilful surgeon, greatly loved by his patients, whose names and faces he never forgot. During an extremely active and successful career he made many important contributions to obstetrics and gynaecology, but undoubtedly his magnum opus and lasting memorial were his contributions to the management of placenta praevia, where his work revolutionised the treatment of this condition and led to a great reduction in maternal and foetal deaths. Not only his work but he himself were well-known internationally, partly because of his travels abroad but especially because overseas students were attracted to his department in Belfast. Pupils of his occupy chairs of obstetrics and gynaecology in all five continents and many more have become leaders in the speciality throughout the world.

Many honours were awarded him. In 1961 he was appointed CBE, and in the same year he was given the honorary degree of doctor of science by Leeds University. This was followed in 1965 by the award of the Blair Bell Medal of the Royal Society of Medicine and the Eardley Holland Memorial Medal of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. He was foundation Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and for many years played an important role in its affairs, eventually becoming Vice-President in 1961. Despite his many other responsibilities he found time to act as a member of innumerable hospital and other committees and contributed greatly to the medical services in Northern Ireland. He served on the senate of the Queen's University from 1965 to 1973. This engaged him closely in university affairs, including membership of the board of curators, where for many years he assisted in the selection of future members of the academic staff of the university. His services in medicine, the community and the university were recognised when he was made an honorary doctor of laws in 1974. He was an active member of the Ulster Medical Society and its President in 1958, and a foundation member and first President in 1952 of the Ulster Obstetrical Society. The last honour bestowed upon him gave him and his friends much pleasure when in 1977 he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and subsequently the first Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of that College.

He was long and happily married to Margaret Lowry, and her death in 1968 was a heavy blow. He was survived by two sons, Jeremy, a gynaecologist and Alastair an orthopaedic surgeon and by a daughter, Anne who was formerly a nurse, when he died on 16 August 1978.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1978, 2, 708].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England