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Biographical entry Orban, Fernand (1902 - 1981)

OBE (Mil) 1945; Croix de Guerre 1945; Hon FRCS 1964; Hon FACS.

9 May 1902
21 July 1981
General surgeon


Fernand Orban was born in Liège on 9 May 1902, and he qualified with great distinction at Liège University before secondment to the surgical department at Strasbourg University until 1930, working under Professor René Leriche (mon maître). He was also assistant in the department of histology under Professor de Winiwater and Professor Bovin. In 1930 he became full-time assistant in the surgical department at Liege, and senior tutor in 1935.

After the outbreak of the second world war he joined the Anglo-Belgian resistance group and became involved in undercover work. In 1942, learning that he was suspect and likely to go to prison, he made a dramatic escape to Britain. Shortly afterwards he was commissioned as a Major in the RAMC, impeccably dressed, but with a limited knowledge of English which he soon remedied. At the end of the war he returned to the Hôpital de Bavière, Liège University, as consultant surgeon. He was acting Professor in 1953 and was elected to the Chair of Surgery in 1959, which he held until his retirement in 1972. As a general surgeon his chief interests were in vascular and orthopaedic surgery, but he was also responsible for founding the department of anaesthesia and resuscitation at the hospital.

Apart from his distinctions listed above he was a member of the Royal Academy of Belgium; Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland and an Honorary Fellow of the Hunterian Society of London, as well as a member of the Association of Vascular Surgery, Paris. In May 1960 he delivered a Moynihan Lecture at the Royal College of Surgeons of England on the subject of New trends in the treatment of Buerger's disease. He was appointed Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold and received the Croix de Evadés and Croix de la Resistance Armée.

Fernand Orban retired to the south of France where his main interests were his garden and, as a committed anglophile, a continuing interest in the English language. His happy home, with his charming wife Jeannot, was a Mecca each year for his many British friends and admirers. He died peacefully on 21 July 1981.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Sir Ian Fraser].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England