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Biographical entry Griffiths, Evan (1916 - 1998)

MRCS 1940; FRCS 1948; MB BS London 1941; LRCP 1940; FRCS Edinburgh 1943.

13 December 1916
28 July 1998
General surgeon


Evan Griffiths was a consultant surgeon at Bridgend Hospitals, South Wales. He was born into West Wales farming stock on 13 December 1916. His father, Edgar Griffiths, owned and ran a grocery business in Llanelli. His mother was Mary Evans. Early schooling was at Llanelli Grammar School, where he displayed a great sporting talent, playing wing three-quarter for Welsh Schoolboys at rugby football. He gained a science scholarship to study medicine at St Bartholomew's Hospital in 1935, and continued to play competitive rugby for Bart's and his home town of Llanelli. In the days when one could take the primary FRCS at second MB level, he overcame this hurdle.

After qualifying in 1940, house appointments followed for a year at Bart's, first in casualty, and then with Sir Geoffrey Keynes. From 1942, he worked for a year at the Bolingbroke Hospital under Sir Zachary Cope. Later, as resident surgical officer at the Brompton Hospital, he gained valuable thoracic experience working with pioneers such as Tudor Edwards, J E H Roberts and Sir Russell Brock. Having passed the Edinburgh FRCS in 1943, he entered war service, having already considerable experience in wartime trauma in London. Service as a Squadron Leader in the Royal Air Force gave him added knowledge of the creation, administration and training of personnel for a mobile field hospital during the months leading to the Normandy invasion. After the war he had the responsibility of organising the surgical side of a 'static' hospital in Germany.

His sights were always set on surgery, and on demobilisation in 1947 he worked as registrar and research assistant to Ian Aird for one and a half years, before returning to his alma mater. At Bart's he became casualty surgeon and chief assistant to the professorial surgical unit, being greatly influenced by Sir James Patterson Ross. In addition to a clinical assistant post at St Peter's Hospital with Alec Badenoch from 1948 to 1951, during 1951 he held a temporary chief assistant post to Sir Clifford Naunton Morgan's unit at Bart's.

He made some important observations and wrote often quoted publications on the blood supply of the pancreas, and also on cancer of the adrenal cortex. At an earlier stage he had written on the results of his investigations into the use of procaine penicillin in surgical sepsis.

Evan became consultant general surgeon to the Welsh Regional Hospital Board and mid-Glamorgan management committee at Bridgend in 1951, with some commitments in outlying hospitals and also in Cardiff. Sadly, this very active surgical career was cut short by a stroke in 1959.

With considerable physical and mental determination, he took up geriatrics, and was appointed consultant geriatrician in North Wales, setting up a geriatric unit at the Maelor General Hospital in Wrexham, in 1961. There was a strong Polish community in the locality. As a result of his endeavours on their behalf, he was awarded the Polish gold cross of merit. He retired in 1981 and died some 17 years later on 28 July 1998, from a myocardial infarction.

Evan married Joan Morris. One of their three sons, Nicholas, is a consultant surgeon in Dover. Joan died two years after her husband and Evan's younger brother, John, also a surgeon, died in 2001 (q.v. see below). They had four grandchildren.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1998 317 1159; Information from Nicholas J Griffiths FRCS and Mrs Rosemary Griffiths].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England