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Biographical entry Spencer, Stanley Livingstone (1907 - 1995)

MRCS and FRCS 1935; MB BS Sydney 1930; FRACS 1935.

1 November 1907
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
1 February 1995
General surgeon


Stanley Livingstone Spencer was born on 1 November 1907 in Sydney, New South Wales, the son of Thomas Walter Spencer, a journalist, and his wife Alice Maude, née Kelly. He was educated at North Sydney Boys' High School and Sydney University, where he qualified MB BS in 1930, winning the Chapman Prize for a physiology thesis.

He worked at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children and the Royal Hospital for Women, before working his passage to England as ship's doctor and gaining his FRCS in 1935. After two years as surgical registrar at the Southend Hospital in Essex he returned to Australia in 1937, gaining his FRACS and marrying Doris Marion Ram, a former theatre sister at Southend.

On being appointed honorary surgeon to Sydney Hospital, he commenced practice in Macquarie Street, sharing rooms with Sir Hugh Poate, who supported him strongly. Later Spencer was to give great support to his own junior colleagues in their efforts to become established.

He developed an extensive practice as a general surgeon, with a special interest in thyroid surgery. His surgical technique was outstanding, and characterised by meticulous haemostasis and gentle handling of the tissues. He was the author of more than a dozen articles on a variety of topics, including thyroid disorders and hernia surgery. He retired from practice in 1969.

Spencer's support for his patients was sympathetic and at times imaginative - for example, after a leg amputation he presented a patient with a copy of Paul Brickhill's book about Douglas Bader, the war hero who was a double amputee. He was a strong supporter of the honorary system for hospital specialists. A colleague recalled: 'I remember once he left Sydney late in the afternoon, spent several hours driving to Mudgee, then nearly four hours operating, before returning to Sydney Hospital to face a day's work as a surgeon on call. All this was done for no fee.'

He and his wife both enjoyed sailing. He died on 1 February 1995 survived by his two sons, Tom and Ted. His wife died in 1988.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Med J Aust 1995 166 441, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England