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Biographical entry Vartan, Charles Keith (1907 - 1996)

MRCS 1930; FRCS 1932; MRCOG 1935; FRCOG 1949; LRCP 1930.

11 November 1907
Sandiacre, Nottinghamshire
1 January 1996
General surgeon


Charles Vartan was born on 11 November 1907 at Sandiacre, Nottinghamshire, where his father, Charles Samuel Vartan, was a general practitioner and his mother was Florence Ethel, née Hepworth. His grandfather was Dr P K Vartan who in 1861 had founded the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society's Hospital in Nazareth. Charles was educated at George Watson's College, Edinburgh, at Bishop Stortford College and at St Bartholomew's Medical College, where he qualified in 1930. As a prize-winning student he had no difficulty in getting jobs in his teaching hospital, and with his FRCS in 1932 served a long spell as 'resident assistant physician accoucheur', as St Bartholomew's chose to designate its obstetric trainee. He was house surgeon to Harold Wilson and Geoffrey Keynes; resident intern under Drs Barris and Donaldson; junior demonstrator of pathology and holder of the Luther Holden Research Scholarship. In 1938 he was appointed gynaecologist to the War Memorial Hospital in Woolwich and later medical director of the British Hospital for Mothers and Babies, also in Woolwich. He said of himself that he learnt to regard the midwife as the specialist in normal midwifery and he was very proud subsequently to have been elected a Vice-President of the Royal College of Midwives.

During the war he served in the Emergency Medical Service and received a commendation for 'brave conduct in civil defence'. He published a series of papers on his specialty, became a member of the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in 1935 and a Fellow of the now Royal College in 1949, where he was later a member of Council. He examined for his College, the Conjoint Board and the Central Midwives' Board. He enjoyed the company of his colleagues as Chairman of the Greenwich Division of the BMA, and as President of the Section of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Royal Society of Medicine. He became a Liveryman of the Loriners Company in 1946 and was Master of the Company in 1980. In retirement he was invited to become the first Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the University of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, and greatly enjoyed the experience.

In 1935 he married Marjorie Norah Mitchell, SRN, by whom he had four children: Angela, a haematologist in Oxford, Charles, a general practitioner in Poole, Hilary, married to a GP, and a son who predeceased him. His interests were watching rugby and cricket (he was a past president of Blackheath Cricket Club), philately and bridge. In 1990 he wrote to the College Secretary commenting that he had just read Sir Reginald Murley's Surgical roots and branches:

'on page 307 I read "for some years a strenuous effort has been made to collect curriculum vitae from the Fellows themselves." In order to save this committee from having to make a strenuous effort on my behalf I enclose a CV which I prepared for the BMJ'.

He died on 1 January 1996, survived by his wife and three of his children.

The Royal College of Surgeons of England