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Biographical entry Waterfall, Muriel Cornish (1920 - 1990)

MRCS and FRCS 1946; MB BS London 1944.

23 December 1920
1 July 1990
General surgeon and Thoracic surgeon


Muriel Cornish Waterfall, one of four daughters of William Duncan Waterfall, (née Cornish) a teacher, was born in Muswell Hill, London on 23 December 1920. She was educated at Tollington Preparatory School, Muswell Hill, and at St George's School, Harpenden, Herts, where she won a number of prizes. She then trained at Manchester Medical School and the Royal Free Hospital Medical School, and graduated in 1944. After house surgeon appointments she secured the FRCS, aged 25, in 1946, and became resident surgical officer at Essex County Hospital, Colchester; surgical registrar at Winchester and the Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith, and senior registrar at Brompton Hospital. She also worked for a short time at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, and at the Lahey Clinic, Boston. In later years she acknowledged her indebtedness to Heneage Ogilvie, Russell Brock and Harry Platt. She was appointed consultant surgeon to Kingston General Hospital, also to the New Victoria Hospital, Kingston, and the Royal Hospital, Richmond. Throughout that period she did both general and thoracic surgery. She was a member of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland and a regular supporter of surgical meetings. She was a skilful and conscientious surgeon who never spared herself in the service of her patients.

She was to be seen in her hospitals at all hours of the day and night and was always a loyal and helpful colleague. Having spent her annual leave in Nepal in 1980 and in the subsequent two years as a locum surgeon, she retired early and went back to Nepal in 1985. Despite poor health she also did locum as a surgeon in Ascension Island, in Zambia and the United Kingdom and gave much aid to the elderly. Although she never married she took a great interest in the lives of her one brother and three sisters (one of whom is a consultant anaesthetist), and also those of her twelve nieces and nephews. She was an unassuming woman of warm simplicity, good humour and outgoing kindness, who died on 1 July 1990, aged 69.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 7 July 1990; Brit med J 1990, 301, 439].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England