Hugh Dudley

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Emeritus Professor Hugh Dudley, CBE, MB, ChB, ChM, FRCSE, FRACS, FRCS

1 July 1925 - 28 June 2011

General surgeon

Hugh Arnold Freeman Dudley ('Hugh" Dudley) has died in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He was a formidable surgical intellect and also a skilled technical surgeon. In 1963 he was appointed Foundation Professor of Surgery at the then recently established Monash University. Three years earlier teaching of medical students had begun at the University.

Monash in its beginning was ably led by its first Vice Chancellor, Sir Louis Mathieson. The first Dean of the Faculty of Medicine was the charismatic Professor Rod Andrew.  Andrew appointed a group of bright enthusiastic young Foundation Professors. Dudley was one of them. These men were the catalysts who created and launched a medical school which has now become an institution in Victoria and in Australia. The first Monash medical graduates qualified in December 1966.

Dudley as Professor of Surgery was appointed to head the Department of Surgery at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, one of three teaching hospitals of the Faculty. He was an academic first and foremost and a superb teacher who advocated and encouraged the philosophy of integrated teaching adopted by the Clinical and Paraclinical Departments of the Medical Faculty. He was a significant influence in the surgical scene at the Alfred for nigh on ten years where he developed a strong research base in his department thus encouraging young trainee surgeons who were studying for higher degrees. Within the broader Australian surgical community he was very active in the Surgical Research Society of Australasia and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

Hugh Dudley was born in Dublin, attended Heath Grammar School in Halifax, England and in 1942 entered Edinburgh University Medical School. A brilliant student he topped his year in 1947. A bright surgical future lay ahead. After internships in Edinburgh he undertook military service and served for two years as a medical officer in the British Army in the Parachute Regiment before returning to his chosen career. His early surgical training was at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary , the home of many past famous surgeons. His first mentor was the distinguished surgeon Sir James Learmonth. Dudley progressed through the University Department of Surgery in Edinburgh. He was particularly interested in the body's response to injury. The world authority in this area was Dr Francis Moore of Harvard University in Boston. He undertook a research fellowship with Moore. This formed the basis of his ChM Thesis for which he was awarded the Gold Medal and the Chiene Medal of Edinburgh University in 1958.

From Edinburgh he was appointed to a senior lectureship in the Department of Surgery of Aberdeen University at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. He did well there. His reputation grew and he was invited to the Foundation Chair of Surgery at Monash. In the relatively short time he was there he made a significant impact and there are many surgeons practising  in Victoria now who owe much to and are grateful for Dudley's stimulating teaching, rigorous discipline and his analytical approach to problem solving.

During the nineteen sixties and early seventies the Vietnam War impacted on Australia. Civilian surgical teams consisting of volunteer surgeons, physicians and anaesthetists served in South Vietnam during this frustrating and difficult conflict. Dudley with the late Sir Edward (Weary) Dunlop and many others served. He was decorated by the South Vietnam Government for removing a live shell detonator cap from the abdomen of a wounded civilian.

Shortly after his second stint in Vietnam he accepted an appointment as Professor of Surgery at St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London. By this time he was a surgeon of international standing largely because of his extensive writings in the surgical literature. His output was phenomenal. He was editor or author of many texts. Perhaps the most outstanding was his editorship and personal contribution to the classic British operative surgical textbook "Operative Surgery".

In 1988 Hugh Dudley retired from St Mary's Hospital.  He was sixty three but he was by no means finished and continued writing and consultative work with the British Ministry of Defense. He moved quietly with his wife to Aberdeenshire where he hoped to enjoy an outdoor life. Unfortunately this was marred by illness in his later years. He is survived by his devoted wife of many years. They were married when he was a student and Jean a nurse. They defied the caveat given to young surgeons 'knife before wife'. Of their three children, their eldest died several years ago, their second son lives in Western Australia and their daughter lives in Northern Ireland. There are eight grand children and four great grand children.

Hugh Dudley's time in Australia was thought by many who admired and respected his intellect to be too brief. Even so his contribution to the surgical scene was very great and both now and well into the future his impact will be remembered and appreciated.

John Masterton, FRACS

Barrie Marmion, Foundation Professor of Microbiology, Monash University