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Biographical entry Greig, Murray Thomson (1908 - 2000)

MRCS and FRCS 1947; MB BCh Otago 1933; FRACS 1948.

23 April 1908
Kirin, Manchuria
19 March 2000
General surgeon


Murray Greig was a former general surgeon at Waitako Hospital, in Hamilton, New Zealand. He was born on 23 April 1908 in Kirin, Manchuria, where his father, James Alexander Greig (FRCS Edinburgh) and mother, Ella Wallace, served with the Irish Presbyterian mission, establishing a hospital in Kirin before the Boxer rebellion. He was educated at home and in Chefoo, China, for the first 12 years of his life, before going to Wellington College, New Zealand, where he played in the first XV for two years. His medical education was at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

After qualification and junior posts, he came to London to specialise in surgery, working at the Royal Northern Hospital during the Blitz with Hamilton Bailey and McNeill-Love. He then joined the RAMC, served in West Africa and India, and returned to land in Normandy two days after D-day. He kept brief records of 236 surgical operations on the wounded between 8 June and 19 August 1944. Subsequently, he served with the British Forces in West Africa and India, and was medical officer on the SS Karoa, which evacuated prisoners of war from Changi jail.

After the war, he came back to England, took his FRCS, and returned to New Zealand in 1948. He was appointed general surgeon to Waitako Hospital, Hamilton, in 1948, where his early years were difficult, coping with patients with hydatid disease and prostatic disease, and being almost continually on call for obstetric disasters and caesarian sections. His particular forte was the surgery of the gall bladder. Imperturbable, Murray was a natural peacemaker in hospital politics. He served on various committees of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

He had a lifelong love of rugby football and was honorary medical officer to the Waikato Rugby Football Union. Towards the end of his life he became blind from glaucoma, but maintained his independence with cheerfulness. In 1936, he married Benita Hickson, who died in 1983. He then moved from Hamilton to Christchurch, where his son Murray was an otolaryngologist. He died of multi-organ failure and old age on 19 March 2000.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2000 321 115, with portrait; NZ Med J 2000 113(1115) 344; Information from Murray Greig].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England