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Biographical entry Manchester, Sir William Maxwell (1913 - 2001)

KBE 1987; CBE 1972; MB ChB Otago 1937; FRCS 1949; FRACS; FACS.

Born
31 October 1913
Waimate, Canterbury, New Zealand
Died
25 December 2001
Occupation
Plastic surgeon

Details

Sir William Manchester was the Sir William Stevenson professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He was born in Waimate, south Canterbury, New Zealand, the son of James Manchester and Martha Manchester née Brown. He received his early education at a local school and then as a boarder at Taimaru Boys' High School. He was admitted to Otago medical school, where he was a gifted undergraduate, gaining distinctions in most of his exams and being awarded many prestigious prizes and scholarships.

He passed his primary FRCS as an undergraduate in 1934, being examined by Gordon Gordon-Taylor. After graduation in 1937, he spent a year as a junior lecturer in the anatomy department before starting his clinical training as a house surgeon at New Plymouth Hospital.

He enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Army Medical Corps in February 1940 and was posted as a medical officer to the 22nd New Zealand Infantry Battalion. He was persuaded to train in plastic surgery under the supervision of Sir Harold Gillies. He spent time at Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead with Archibald McIndoe and at Hill End Hospital, St Albans with Rainsford Mowlem and John Barron. It is interesting to note that, having travelled from New Zealand to England, his specialist training in plastic surgery was by given New Zealand-born surgeons.

He was posted to Egypt, where he started his first plastic surgical unit in the New Zealand Military Hospital at Helwan, Cairo. After two years, he was posted to the military plastic surgical unit at Burwood Hospital, Christchurch, later commanding this unit with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He later converted this military unit to a civilian establishment. In 1948, he returned to Britain for further postgraduate study and obtained his FRCS in December 1949.

His was the successful application for the position of plastic surgeon at Middlemore Hospital, Auckland, where he established a plastic surgical unit in December 1951, and remained in charge until his retirement from public hospital practice in 1979. During this time, he supervised the training of at least 50 aspiring plastic surgeons.

He obtained international recognition for his expertise and innovation in treating children with cleft lip and palate, and his special skill in mandibular reconstruction using large free bone grafts. Sir William was a popular visiting professor to many internationally renowned plastic surgical units, appreciated for his lucid and well-illustrated lectures, delivered with passion and humour.

He was a member of the New Zealand committee of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, becoming its chairman in 1970 and served as an examiner for the Australasian college. He was an honorary member of many international plastic surgical societies and in 1969 he was elected to the James IV Association of Surgeons. Sir William was appointed foundation professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Auckland in 1976.

In 1967, he was appointed general secretary of the International Confederation of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, a post he held for four years and he then continued on the executive committee for many years. During his tenure as general secretary, he revised the by-laws and was instrumental in ensuring that all members of the national plastic surgical societies were properly trained and qualified plastic surgeons. This led to the formal training programmes that now exist in all countries represented by the International Confederation.

He was awarded a CBE for services to plastic and reconstructive surgery in 1972, and was made a KBE in 1987.

Sir William died on 25 December 2001 at the age of 88. He was a passionate New Zealander, who will be remembered for his surgical expertise, advancement of the art and science of cleft lip and palate surgery, and for his far-sighted administrative contributions to New Zealand, Australian and global plastic surgery.

Earle Brown

Sources used to compile this entry: [New Zealand Herald 28 December 2001 www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=584232 - accessed 20 July 2017; Timaru District Council Sir William Maxwell Manchester www.timaru.govt.nz/community/our-district/hall-of-fame/category-three/sir-william-maxwell-manchester - accessed 20 July 2017].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England