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Biographical entry Mason, Eric Ivor Henry (1912 - 1994)

MRCS and FRCS 1951; MB ChB Cape Town 1936.

Orthopaedic surgeon


Mason was born in Kimberley of British immigrant parents in 1912, did his schooling at Kimberley Boys' High and went on to study medicine at the University of Cape Town. While there, he played water polo and swam for the university, and, being an accomplished pianist, played at the college dances. He did his junior appointments at various hospitals in the eastern Cape, and it was during one of these appointments, in Grahamstown, that he successfully treated a retired judge in status asthmaticus, thereby earning his undying gratitude.

A stint as a ship's doctor on a copper-loading vessel was followed by a post with Anglo American for three years, and two years in wartime military service. Later he worked in the mine hospital in Orkney, during which time he took up flying and obtained a pilot's licence. In 1947 he returned to the University of Cape Town for post-graduate study, after which he returned to a mine hospital in Springs where he met and married his wife Nancy. She later accompanied him to England, where she worked at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital and he at the Hammersmith, where he acquired his interest in orthopaedics and his FRCS. They returned to Klerkdorp in 1954, where he was appointed to a surgical post at the hospital, and also set up in private practice. During this time he served as Chairman of the Western Transvaal Branch of the Medical Association of South Africa, and as Grand Master in a masonic lodge.

In 1965 he returned to Groote Schuur to take up a specialist post in the orthopaedic department, where he also established a clinic for the rehabilitation of stroke victims. In addition he ran the amputee clinic, but his great love was for teaching, and he taught many successive classes, one of which included his own daughter. After his retirement from Groote Schuur he did sessional work at Princess Alice and Tygerburg, where he again lectured in orthopaedics and trained orthopaedic technicians at the Red Cross Childrens' Hospital.

After his retirement he began a belated but very talented essay into the graphic arts and left many remarkable pictures which he was unfortunately reluctant to exhibit.

A gifted and popular teacher, Mason was one of the dwindling legion of graduates of the British Royal Colleges who played the greatest part in the development of the South African medical profession.

He died after a long illness in 1994, survived by his wife, one son and three daughters, two of whom became doctors.

Sources used to compile this entry: [SA Med J 1994 84 879].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England