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Biographical entry Smyth, Gordon Dill Long (1929 - 1992)

MRCS and FRCS 1959; MB BCh, BAO Belfast 1953; DLO 1957; MD 1961; DSc 1971; MCh 1976.

2 May 1929
Belfast, Northern Ireland
20 May 1992
ENT surgeon


Gordon Smyth was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 2 May 1929. His father, John Andrew Smyth, was a consultant physician and clinical biochemist at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, and his mother, Viola May Millar was a civil servant in that city. He went to St Columba's College in Dublin and after that progressed to Queen's University in Belfast, where he attended the medical school. He was a student at the Royal Victoria Hospital and then became registrar in the ENT department there. At medical school he was distinguished by never winning any prize or scholarship! He was a Fellow at the Memphis Otologic Clinic in Tennessee for one year in 1962. He then became a consultant at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast and reader in otology at Queen's University in 1963.

His particular interest in medicine was in middle ear disease. He revised and developed new techniques to manage chronic middle ear disease. His series of tympanoplasties was unequalled. He analysed and followed up all the patients himself, a unique achievement.

He married first Jessica Braedon and they had three children, Kathryn, Paul and Marcus. Jessica died in 1987 and subsequently in 1988 he married Penelope Rosenfeld and acquired two step-children, Sam and Eloise.

As a young man he enjoyed rugby football, vigorously playing for the Leinster Schools and then for Queen's University and the North of Ireland Rugby Club. He was an excellent golfer with a handicap in single figures. In latter life an expert gardener, he wrote a book about gardening which he did not get published.

He had over 200 scientific publications and numerous chapters in textbooks. He published two solo textbooks, Diagnostic ear, nose and throat surgery in 1978 and Chronic ear disease in 1980. He was a distinguished lecturer to many international societies and won many prizes for his contributions to otolaryngology, including the Dalby Prize in otology RSM, 1974, Yearsley lecturer, RSM, 1975, Fellow of the Otosclerotic Study Club 1979, American Academy of Otolaryngology Merit Award 1980, Lomax Lecturer, University of Tennessee, Memphis, Tennessee, 1982, Dr Weese Lecturer, Portland, Oregon, 1982, Honorary Member German ENT Society 1983, Professor H C Andersen Lecturer, Aarhus, Denmark 1983, Honorary Member American Otologic Society 1985, UK Representative IFOS 1985, Harrison Prize in otology, RSM 1985, First Brinkmann Lecturer, University of Niemegen, Holland, 1985.

He was awarded the Joseph Toynbee lecture by the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1992. He wrote and published the lecture Facts and fantasies in modern otology - the law doctor's dilemma in Laryngology 1992 106 591-6. Sadly his terminal illness prevented him from delivering the lecture. He died on 20 May 1992.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1992 305 418; Proc Irish Otolaryngol Soc, 33rd Annual Meeting 1992].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England