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Biographical entry Barrett, Henry Campbell (1903 - 1989)

MRCS and FRCS 1933; MB ChB Otago 1929; FRACS 1929.

7 November 1903
Timaru, New Zealand
28 February 1989
General surgeon and Thoracic surgeon


Henry Barrett was born on 7 November 1903 in Timaru, New Zealand, the son of Henry, a farmer, and his wife Annie, née Campbell. One of his mother's uncles had the distinction of being physician to the Czar of Russia.

He received his education at Hamilton High School where he distinguished himself in hockey and rugby, and was also head prefect. His medical training was obtained at Otago University where he won the Batchelor Memorial Medal for surgery and won a blue for hockey and rifle shooting. His surgical training continued at Dunedin with a spell in England in 1933 at Bedford and the West London Hospitals. On his return to New Zealand he became a registrar at Waikato and finally on the staff at the New Plymouth Hospital where he became successively, superintendent, visiting surgeon and medical officer of special scale over a period from 1942 to 1977.

Henry Barrett was a pioneer in thoracic surgery with recorded evidence of a successful ligation of the patent ductus arteriosus in 1947 and a repair of a trachea-oesophageal fistula in the same year. Sadly he did not publish details of these occasions although they are recorded in the Australasian archives.

His sporting interest continued throughout his career and he enjoyed golf, tennis and watching rugby. Latterly he spent time helping on his family dairy farms at New Plymouth with his two younger sons.

In 1931 he married Lily Viva Storey, a nurse at Waikato Hospital and they had three sons and a daughter. The eldest son, John Campbell Barrett, is a consultant anaesthetist. Henry Barrett retired in 1978 and died on 28 February 1989, aged 85.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information supplied by his son, John Campbell Barrett].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England