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Biographical entry Mahfouz, Naguib (1882 - 1974)

Hon FRCS 1943; MB Cairo 1903; MCh 1930; MRCP 1935; FRCP 1937; FRCOG 1935.

Mansoura, Nile Delta, Egypt
25 July 1974
Obstetrician and gynaecologist


Naguib Mahfouz was born at Mansoura, Nile Delta, in 1882 and educated at the American Mission School and the Government School of Mansoura, at both of which he acquitted himself outstandingly well. He was an avid reader and his interest in articles on Koch's discovery of the tubercle bacillus and on Darwin's theory of the origin of species had a strong influence in his choice of medicine as a career. He entered the school of medicine at Cairo in 1898 and qualified in 1903. In 1906 he was appointed assistant surgeon at the Kasr El-Aini University Hospital, where his special interest in diseases of women led to the formation of a department of obstetrics and gynaecology, of which he became the first Professor. He obtained the MCh Cairo in 1930 and the MRCP London in 1935. He was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1943, and Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and of the Royal Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, Edinburgh, in 1947.

He made many outstanding contributions to obstetrics and gynaecology and is particularly remembered for his pioneer work on fistulae, and for his Atlas of Mahfouz's Museum of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, probably the best collection of specimens, with detailed descriptions, in the world. On his retirement in 1948 he was made Emeritus Professor and honorary surgeon to the Kasr El-Aini Hospital, but his continued interest in medicine earned him many Egyptian honours, culminating in the first-class Order of Merit in 1960.

Naguib Mahfouz, rightly called the doyen of obstetrics, was a man of the highest integrity at a time when this attribute was by no means universal, a charming host outstanding in his hospitality both at Cairo and elsewhere and a colleague for whom there was worldwide respect and affection. An introduction from him to any gynaecologist and obstetrician was virtually an 'open sesame' in any part of the world. He is survived by two of his daughters and nine grandchildren. He died on 25 July 1974, aged 92 years.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1974, 4, 474].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England