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Biographical entry Monaro, James William (1921 - 1985)

MRCS and FRCS 1957; MB BS Sydney 1945.

1 May 1921
Leichhardt, Queensland, Australia
11 July 1985
General surgeon


James William Monaro was born at Leichhardt, Queensland, Australia, on 1 May, 1921. He was educated by the Christian Brothers at Lewisham. During the second world war he joined the Royal Australasian Air Force and was posted to 338 Radar Station in Townsville. In 1943 he went to Papua, New Guinea, Long Island and the Bismarck Sea area. There he worked alongside the Americans and developed an interest in the speeches and philosophy of General Douglas MacArthur. Immediately after the war he entered the faculty of medicine at Sydney in the largest ever entry of over 600 students, and was in residence at St John's College from 1946 to 1948. During his later clinical years, as a student resident at Lewisham Hospital, he developed an association which was to last for the rest of his life. After graduation he was junior and then senior resident medical officer at Lewisham Hospital. In 1954 he was appointed medical superintendent and a year later went overseas for postgraduate study.

Travelling to the United Kingdom via Panama, as a ship's surgeon, he took the primary FRCS in 1956 and then became a senior house officer in North Wales before spending a few months as medical officer to an oil company in Kuwait. He returned to Britain and took his FRCS in 1957 to become surgical registrar to the renowned thoracic and general surgeon, Ivor Lewis, at Rhyl, North Wales, with whom he enjoyed a lifelong friendship. There too he met Gwenda, his future wife, who was one of the theatre sisters and they married in 1960. Having been appointed consultant surgeon to Scunthorpe Hospital, in the Sheffield region, in 1961, in the following year he again accepted an appointment as medical superintendent at Lewisham Hospital and returned to Australia. For some years he combined this appointment with surgery, but eventually was compelled to become a full-time medical administrator although he continued to give clinical tutorials to undergraduates and postgraduates.

Jim Monaro continued to work until his final illness. He enjoyed encountering people from all walks of life and he gained a reputation as a raconteur without equal. He was a person with strong and serious convictions who periodically published letters relating to medicopolitical matters and topical moral issues. He had a unique affection for Lewisham Hospital and profound Catholic faith and moral understanding which he acknowledged to be due to his education by the Christian Brothers. When he died on 11 July 1985 he was survived by his wife, Gwenda and their ten children; Stephen, Paul, Elizabeth, Mary Ann, Catherine, Julie Anne, John, Lynette, Colleen and Justin.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Med J Aust 1986, 144, 158-159].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England