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Biographical entry Thomas, Harold (1925 - 2011)

MB BS Otago; FRCS 1958; FACS; FRACS.

Born
4 December 1925
Pahiatua, New Zealand
Died
2011
Occupation
Farmer and Urologist

Details

Harold Thomas was a consultant urologist in Sydney, Australia. As a result of his American experience, when he trained with Roger W Barnes in California, he was able to make a significant contribution to the development of urological practice in Australia.

Harold was born into a humble family in Rakaunui in rural New Zealand. He finished school at 14 and worked in a bank to pay for night school, and later earned a diploma in agriculture. Realising there was little chance of being able to buy his own farm, he turned to medicine and went to Otago University. To pay his way through medical school, Harold worked as a shearer, bent over heavy sodden sheep pulling belt-driven clippers.

Once he graduated, he worked at Auckland Hospital, where he courted and married Shirley. In 1957 they left for the UK, with Harold working as a ship's doctor on board Flowergate, an old cargo freighter. They sailed across the Pacific, through the Suez and then to Marseille. They travelled on to London, where he spent the next four years working at St Paul's Hospital in Endell Street, Covent Garden. In 1958 he gained his fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons.

In 1961 he and Shirley departed for the USA on the Queen Mary. He and his family, then including two sons, Michael and Philip, drove across America to southern California, where Harold trained under Roger W Barnes, then one of America's most prominent urologists and a pioneer of endoscopic surgery. Harold completed his fellowship of the American College of Surgeons and worked at Riverside County Hospital attached to Loma Linda University school of medicine.

Harold and Shirley later moved to Australia, to Sydney. He became a fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and was appointed as a urologist to the Prince Henry/Prince of Wales Hospital complex and established a busy private practice at Randwick. He was elected secretary of the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand. He was held in high regard by his medical colleagues and patients alike.

He introduced American short-stay urology, which was not routine at the time. Despite a busy operating schedule, Harold took time to pass on his skills to other urologists, especially prostatic resection. Two more children, Kay and Geoffrey, were added to the family.

When Harold retired as a surgeon he moved to the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, where he planted trees, farmed the land and looked after his cattle. He died in 2011, aged 85.

Robert D Wines

Sources used to compile this entry: [The New Zealand Medical Journal 14 October 2011, Vol.124, No.1344 www.nzma.org.nz/journal/read-the-journal/all-issues/2010-2019/2011/vol-124-no-1344/obit-thomas - accessed 19 August 2016].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England