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Biographical entry Trinca, Alfred John (1884 - 1981)

MRCS and FRCS 1919; MB BS Melbourne 1907; MD 1910; FRACS 1926.

5 August 1981
General surgeon and Pathologist


Few records are available of the early years of this distinguished surgeon and pathologist. He trained as an undergraduate at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and held his first postgraduate posts there, but his life-long work as a surgeon was at the Alfred Hospital. He was Beaney Scholar and demonstrator in pathology from 1910 to 1911 before being appointed there as pathologist, a position which he held until 1927, after which he became curator of the pathology museum until 1946.

In 1914 he joined the Royal Australian Navy and served in the Grantala at the capture of Rabaul. In 1915 he joined the BEF and served as a Captain with the RAMC in France from 1915 to 1918. In 1919 he took the FRCS in England, where he was surgical registrar and senior demonstrator in anatomy at the Middlesex Hospital from 1919 to 1920. On returning to Australia he was appointed to the surgical staff of the Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, in 1921 and honorary surgeon, 1924-46, consultant pathologist to the Baker Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, 1930-47, lecturer in surgery to dental students in 1942 and finally consultant surgeon to the Alfred Hospital from 1947 onwards.

He is remembered as a teacher for his puckish sense of humour. He was a most gifted surgeon, always dexterous and gentle. With his background in pathology he wrote several articles concerning tumours, but is best remembered for his two papers, first advocating frozen section tissue diagnosis in 1911 and secondly the abuse of peritoneal lavage and drainage tubes in 1933. Such views were well ahead of his time. Always a clear thinker he was never frightened to express his opinions.

He maintained his mental faculties throughout his rich and fruitful life, dying in Melbourne on 5 August 1981 at the age of 97. He left three sons, John, Gordon and Allan, respectively a physician, a surgeon and an anaesthetist.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Med J Aust 1982, 2, 142].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England