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Biographical entry Silva, Karl Michael (1936 - 1999)

MRCS and FRCS 1967; MB BS Sydney; DO; FRACO.

16 September 1936
21 October 1999
Ophthalmic surgeon


Born in Queensland on 16 September 1936, Karl Michael Silva studied medicine at the University of Queensland, and, after qualifying, went to England for five years specialist training in ophthalmology. He then returned to Sydney as an ophthalmic surgeon.

His particular forte was in the surgery of cataract and refractive surgery. He pioneered intraocular lens implantation and phaco-emulsification, constantly improving his technique and emphasising that every movement in an operation was as important as any other. "An operation is like a symphony," he said, "any mistake will mar the entire performance."

He travelled extensively to demonstrate his techniques, to the United States, China and South East Asia. In 1992, he made the first of many trips to Vietnam, where he helped rebuild the ophthalmology department of Dien Bien Phu Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. He was a co-author of a book on cataract surgery, and was an editor of the journal Cataract. He was an active member of several medical societies and was founding secretary of the Ophthalmic Day Surgery Centres Association.

He was an enthusiastic golfer and fly fisherman. He ran a farm near Walgett, which he managed professionally. In 1998, he won first prize in the Walgett District Cotton Growers' Competition. He qualified as a pilot, both in fixed wing aircraft and in helicopters, and used his helicopter to rescue people during the floods of 1998.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret, and by his son, Jim, and daughter, Francesca. Another son, Ned, died aged 15. Karl Michael Silva died on 21 October 1999 of prostate cancer.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Information from Richard Wingate].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England