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Biographical entry Blake, Graeme Bertram (1938 - 2008)

MB ChB Otago 1962; FRCS 1969; FRACS.

28 December 1938
7 January 2008
Plastic surgeon and Reconstructive surgeon


Graeme Bertram ("Blue") Blake was born in Palmerston North but grew up mainly in Wellington, attending Kelburn Primary School and Wellington College. After his medical intermediate year at Victoria University he studied medicine at Otago University from 1958 to 1961. He met Brenda Hayward, a fellow student in Dunedin and they married in 1962. His early post graduate years were spent in Christchurch and then in Dunedin.

In 1968 the Blakes travelled to England by sea with Graeme employed as ship's assistant surgeon. In London Graeme worked in the Mount Vernon and Roehampton Hospitals and passed his English FRCS examinations. He was awarded a Commonwealth Medical Fellowship in 1971 and directed his specialist training to Plastic Surgery, gaining a lot of experience in cleft lip and palate and head and neck cancer surgery.

In late 1972 he and Brenda returned to NZ with their, by then, four children. He passed his FRACS examinations and was appointed to a full-time post as Plastic Surgeon in Christchurch on the retirement of John Roy. Christchurch's Plastic Surgery Unit was then sited at Burwood Hospital where he joined Tom Milliken and Duncan Simon. Two years later he went part-time at the public hospital and began in private practice.

His passion for plastic surgery was infectious and the Unit at Burwood benefited greatly from this enthusiasm. Ultimately he served as head of the Unit from 1987 to 1998 and was influential in moving the unit to Christchurch Hospital where there was better emergency support and more direct liaison with other surgical and medical specialties.

Graeme served terms as president of the NZ Association of Plastic Surgeons, as a member of the RACS Plastic Surgery Board, as Chairman of the NZ Plastic Surgery training committee and as an RACS examiner.

His annual March and April visits to Nepal to do cleft lip and palate surgery began in 1997 when Australian colleague and friend Charles Sharpe invited him to join a group working a Seventh Day Adventist clinic. He and Brenda found this a very gratifying experience which they looked forward to each year.

Graeme retired from the hospital service in 2002 and from private practice in 2006. He quite suddenly became unwell in mid-2007 and was found to have disseminated malignant melanoma.

He died at his home in Christchurch on January 7, 2008, ten days after his 69th birthday. He is survived by Brenda, daughters Prue and Katie, sons Andrew and James and 10 grandchildren.

Stewart Sinclair

Sources used to compile this entry: [Republished by kind permission of the President and Council of The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons from In Memoriam (].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England