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Biographical entry O'Sullivan, James Vincent (1899 - 1976)

MRCS 1925; FRCS 1929; MB BCh BAO NUI 1924; MD 1930; MAO 1932; FRCOG 1944; LRCP 1925; MRCP 1930.

27 November 1899
9 February 1976
Obstetrician and gynaecologist


James Vincent O'Sullivan was born on 27 November 1899 and educated at University College, Galway, and the London Hospital. He graduated in medicine with first-class honours in 1924 and passed MD with distinction, FRCS, MRCP MAO and FRCOG all within the space of three years. He was attached to more hospitals than most of his contemporaries and would frequently be found operating at midnight or at the crack of dawn. In addition he could still find time for teaching and contributing to scientific and clinical meetings. His strength and interest were in obstetrics rather than gynaecology. He had learnt his obstetrics the hard way in Dublin, at the London Hospital, and at City Road Maternity Hospital. He was perhaps unlucky to have such an outstanding contemporary and rival at the London Hospital in Alan Brews, and there was no vacancy for him there after Brews had been appointed. Nevertheless he maintained close contact with his old hospital and for years assisted Eardley Holland in his private practice. After the second world war his main hospital activities were centred on Kingston General Hospital, St Anthony's at Cheam, and St Teresa's Maternity Hospital at Wimbledon. When the Kingston Midwives' Teachers' Training College was started in the 1950s he became actively concerned and continued as a lecturer to successive schools of pupil teachers. In addition to all these responsibilities he established a flourishing private practice. He wrote relatively little, but he did make a number of valuable and original contributions to clinical obstetric practice. One of these was a simple technique that bears his name for replacing the acutely inverted uterus.

Vincent O'Sullivan possessed all the charm so characteristic of his race. He was never short of an idea and, impracticable as some of these sometimes were, they initiated lively and constructive discussion. He never lost his affection for his native country. He bought a number of properties in County Kerry, where he loved to retreat with his family to enjoy fishing, shooting, and other country relaxations. An ardent Catholic, he was genuinely disturbed by some of the developments that were taking place in contemporary society and in his own specialty. He could never quite reconcile himself to some of the newer practices, but his bonhomie and joy of living did not desert him. He remained as always good company, a charming host and companion, a devoted family man, and a very good and understanding doctor.

He was married and had a family all of whom joined the medical profession. He died on 9 February 1976, aged 76 years.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1976, 1, 590].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England