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Biographical entry Shapland, Cyril Dee (1899 - 1980)

MRCS 1922; FRCS 1929; MB BS London 1923; LRCP 1922; MRCP 1929.

18 June 1980
Ophthalmic surgeon


Consultant ophthalmic surgeon to University College Hospital and Moorfields Eye Hospital, Cyril Dee Shapland distinguished his career in the 1950s by pioneering new procedures using diathermy and cryosurgery in the treatment of detachment of the retina. Years earlier, in 1929 he assisted Sir William Lister at the first operation for detachment of the retina in the United Kingdom by Gonin's method of cautery puncture.

Coming from a strong medical and University College Hospital background he was born on 22 November 1899 at Exmouth, South Devon. In his education he showed great promise from the time he attended Streatham Hill College gaining first class honours in the Oxford preliminary examinations, being third in all England. Success was repeated in University College and University College Hospital where he was fortunate to be trained under Wilfrid Trotter and Batty Shaw before he became the resident medical officer at the private hospital at Ruthin, North Wales, in 1923. Returning to London he trained in ophthalmology at Moorfields becoming assistant surgeon in 1933 to University College Hospital and to Moorfields in 1938. He was also consultant to the Royal Marsden Hospital and had many other appointments including those to the Middlesex County Council, Willesden, Harrow, Epsom, Harefield and Roehampton Hospitals.

During the first world war he was active in the University of London OTC and an infantry training unit, while in the second world war he served in the EMS until 1942 and then the RAMC, being ophthalmic specialist at Netley, Southern Command and Millbank, becoming advisor in ophthalmology UK with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel at the end of the war.

Beside his advances in the treatment of detached retina he contributed significantly to general ophthalmology and to the teaching of undergraduates and postgraduates. He was a good opinion, a good operator and a good teacher. He was made a membre d'honneur of the Jules Gonin Club at Lausanne in 1966. He was Vice-President of the Ophthalmological Society of the United Kingdom and of the Ophthalmic Section of the Royal Society of Medicine.

In 1927 he married Elizabeth Stratton who died in 1971; there were no children. In the following year he married Gertrude Gellatly, gaining a stepson and a stepdaughter who qualified at Charing Cross Hospital.

He was keen on cricket, tennis and gardening, also astronomy. This latter pursuit was close to his heart because of the 'Dee' in his name, there being a forebear Dr John Dee (1527-1609), an Elizabethan prominent in mathematics, chemistry and philosophy, who was also an astronomer.

He died on 18 June 1980 at the age of 80.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1980, 281, 89; The Times 24 June 1980].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England