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Biographical entry Kane, Iris (1923 - 1993)

MRCS and FRCS 1951; MB BCh Cambridge 1947; DOMS 1950; MD Cambridge 1955.

22 November 1923
Bulawayo, Rhodesia
1 December 1993


Iris Kane was born in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, on 22 November 1923, the only daughter of Michael Harry Kirkpatrick Kane, MRCP, and Winifred Alma Roworh, who was also a qualified doctor. She was educated until the age of eleven at the Roedean School, Johannesburg, at which she gained a scholarship to Benenden and attended there until the age of seventeen. Gaining the Mary Sparks Scholarship she attended Newnham College, Cambridge, and from there completed her undergraduate training at King's College Hospital, London, where she was awarded the Legge Prize in surgery.

After qualification she worked at King's College Hospital as a house surgeon and Dulwich Hospital as a house physician before becoming senior house officer at the Royal Eye Hospital. In 1954 she returned to King's College Hospital as a senior registrar, where she was greatly influenced by Keith Lyle. In addition to her clinical work she also worked for the Medical Research Council, contributing to the report on Retrolental fibroplasia.

In 1955 she married Philip Steer-Watkins, a farmer in Worplesdon and in whose farm she played an active part, particularly with her pigs. Conveniently in 1959 she was appointed consultant ophthalmologist to the Victoria Hospital in Woking.

According to her obituarist, David Hughes, who was her anaesthetist for many years, she was an extremely skilled ophthalmologist who painstakingly trained her juniors. There is a hint in her obituary, however, suggesting that at times she might have been a somewhat difficult colleague.

In 1985 she suffered a debilitating illness but was eventually able to resume her clinical duties. She retired in 1986 and went to live in Portugal with her husband, but returned to live in Woking after his death. She died on 1 December 1993, survived by her only child, a son, Martin.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England