John Ridley Solomon
23 January 1926 - 25 May 2011
John Solomon, born in Sydney in 1926, passed away on 25 May
2011. John was a dedicated doctor, a committed Christian and a
wonderful colleague who was respected by all. His career centred in
paediatric surgery, particularly in the treatment of burn injuries,
His surgical maximum, "always work from the known to the unknown",
inspired others to emulate his patience.
He was a very committed family man and invested much time and
love to his immediate and extended family. He was husband to Joan,
and father to Helen, Robyn, Graham and Alan; Grandfather to David,
Stephanie, Sharyn, Hamish, Zoe, Matt, Madeleine and Liam. Time
spent at Lorne, sailing and supporting his Richmond football club
were also a great source of enjoyment.
John qualified at Sydney University and after his
pre-registration year he went to Royal Perth Hospital before
proceeding to London where he undertook further surgical training
and gained his FRCS. He late also obtained his FRACS from the
Australasian College. After three years in London, he moved to
Edinburgh in 1959 where he spent a year as senior registrar at the
Royal Hospital for Sick Children.
John returned to Australia to become Senior Surgical Registrar
at the old Children's Hospital in Melbourne in 1960. In 1961, he
became Chief Resident Surgical Officer. He became active in
teaching, holding University of Melbourne positions from 1964 -
1967 in anatomy, and then in paediatric surgery. He had sessional
appointments at the Children's, Alfred and Queen Victoria hospitals
from 1962 and for four years at the Austin. From 1969 he devoted
his time to the Royal Children's Hospital and his private
He was an able general surgeon, one who was always pleasant to
his staff. We never heard him raise his voice or show irritation
with any of them. John, along with his colleagues Murray Clark and
Julian Keogh, made a great contribution to the care of children
with burns. He was the foundation president of the Australian/New
Zealand Burn Association and played a part in organising an
international burn conference in Melbourne in 1986.
John and his colleagues such as Murray Clark initiated a range
of burn prevention research and development endeavours. One such
activity involved the staff of the Burns Centre at the RCH
Melbourne as well as the co-operation graciously given by CSIRO
protein chemistry research department in Parkville to test the
flammability of children's nightwear. This initiative resulted in
the establishment of an Australian standard that required warning
labels to be sewn into the garments themselves.
John knew, as all who worked in the field do, that burn care is
very challenging - an emotionally and physically taxing occupation.
For his colleagues, John led by example. He provided support and
words of comfort and encouragement to all members of his diverse
and widely skilled team.
Burn care brings staff from many disciplines together to care
for patients, all of whom know that the best results and best care
are given when they work together. This spirit of teamwork was
promoted and encouraged by John, who saw his place as a leader not
out in front or above his colleagues but amongst them, as a
facilitator of collaboration. He welcomed initiative and
inspiration from all members of the team, fostering good working
relationships between nurses, surgeons, anaesthetists, dietitians,
occupational therapists, physical therapists, pharmacists,
psychologists and social workers for the better care of the
John understood his work in burn care not just as a clinician
but also as an active advocate and campaigner for burns prevention.
His work in prevention included associations with the then RCH
Melbourne public relations officer and the broader media and
community in general. For example, on one occasion one of the OT
staff reported back to John and the team what she had observed on a
flight from Melbourne to Perth - the dangerous distribution of hot
beverages which in one instance resulted in a fellow passenger
getting scalded. Seeing the opportunity for burn prevention, John
conveyed this information to the Australian Airlines Association,
and a safer method of pouring tea and coffee whilst in flight was
adopted. In more ways than this one, John has had a lasting impact
upon the profession and specifically, burn care.
Vale, John, we'll always remember your welcoming, smiling
Mr Julian Keogh, Dr TCK Brown and Alan Solomon