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Biographical entry Schrire, Theodore (1906 - 1991)

MRCS 1931; FRCS 1933; MA Cape Town 1925; MB ChB 1930; LRCP 1931.

Born
6 November 1906
Cape Town, South Africa
Died
6 May 1991
Occupation
Casualty surgeon, General surgeon and Thoracic surgeon

Details

The following obitiuary was published in volume eight of Plarr's Lives of the Fellows:


Theodore Schrire, nicknamed 'Toddy', was born on 6 November 1906 in Cape Town. He matriculated at the age of sixteen, afterwards attaining his MA from the University of Cape Town, where he received the medal in physiology in 1925. He qualified MB ChB in 1930, and obtained his FRCS in London in 1933. He subsequently studied at the Mayo Clinic, and under Chevalier Jackson, who stimulated his interest in thoracic surgery. He went on to broaden his interests, studying orthopaedics at the Allgemeines Krankenhaus in Vienna, but soon left because of the prevailing anti-semitic sentiments. He returned to Cape Town in 1935 as a general surgeon in private practice, and was attached to the department of surgery at the University of Cape Town Medical School under Professor Saint. In 1938 he married Sylvia Sohn, and together they returned to Europe where under Professor Semb in Norway he pursued his studies in thoracic surgery, a discipline he would ultimately pioneer in Cape Town. He published several papers in local and international journals on this topic.

In 1943 Schrire convened the first meeting of the Association of Surgeons of South Africa. Here, in collaboration with A G Sweetapple and Marcus Cole-Rous, he presented a proposed constitution for a College of Surgeons of South Africa. He started the Head and Neck Clinic at Groote Schuur Hospital and soon became renowned for his heroic and aggressive surgery in this field. In 1955 he was awarded the Hamilton-Bailey medal of the Medical Association of South Africa.

In March 1956, in his prime at the age of 49 years, Schrire was struck down by a stroke. Unable to perform active surgery he was appointed assistant editor to Dr T Shaddick-Higgins of the South African Medical Journal, and subsequently to the joint medical staff in charge of the casualty department at Groote Schuur Hospital. There, he supervised the junior staff, at the same time publishing numerous papers, culminating this work by editing two books: Emergencies: casualty organisation and treatment in 1962, and Surgical emergencies: diagnoses and management in 1972.

In 1966 Schrire published Hebrew Amulets, still recognised today as the definitive work on this topic. He was equally renowned for his collection of netsukes and received international recognition. Throughout his life, Schrire was a serious collector of these, together with amulets, maps of Africa and Palestine, Judaica and a variety of literary works.

In 1971, at the age of 65, Schrire retired from his surgical career and spent much time pursuing his interests in other fields. He was widely recognised as a scholar and academic. His temperament, described by his wife as 'fiery', may have proved intimidating to some, but to his family and close friends it was a constant stimulus to continued intellectual pursuits. He died on 6 May 1991, survived by his wife and four daughters, Tamar, Carmel, Sharon and Gail.


The following obitiuary was published in volume nine of Plarr's Lives of the Fellows:


'Toddy' Schrire was born in Cape Town on 6 November 1906, the son of Max Mordechai Schrire and Rebecca Mauerberger. He was educated at the South African College School and studied medicine at the University of Cape Town, winning a medal in physiology. After qualifying, he went to London, passed the conjoint, and took the FRCS. Later he travelled extensively, visiting the Mayo Clinic, studying under Chevalier Jackson, and the Algemeine Krankenhaus in Vienna. He decided to leave Austria because of the prevailing anti-semitic climate.

He returned to Cape Town in 1935 as a general surgeon in private practice, and was attached to the department of surgery under Saint. In 1938, he married Sylvia Sohn, and together they returned to Europe, where he studied under Semb in Norway.

He resolved to specialise in cardiothoracic surgery, a discipline which he pioneered in South Africa. In 1943, Toddy convened the first meeting of the Association of Surgeons of South Africa, from which evolved a College of Surgeons of South Africa. He started the head and neck clinic at Groote Schuur Hospital and was soon famous for his aggressive surgery in this field. In 1955, he was awarded the Hamilton Bailey medal of the Medical Association of South Africa.

In 1956, when only 49, Toddy was afflicted by a stroke. Giving up operating, he became assistant editor of the South African Medical Journal and was put in charge of the casualty department at Groote Schuur. There he published innumerable papers, supervised the junior staff, and wrote two textbooks.

He had several hobbies. He was a respected collector of Japanese netsukes and Hebrew amulets, hobbies he shared with Sylvia. He retired in 1971. He died in Cape Town on 6 May 1991, leaving four daughters, three of whose names were Mrs Sharon Godfrey, Mrs Carmel Steiger and Mrs Gail Flesch.

Sources used to compile this entry: [S Afr Med J 1991 80 633; information from Carmel Shrire Steiger].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England