John Solomon

You are here:

John Ridley Solomon
Paediatric Surgeon
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 practice.

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 patient.

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 face.

Mr Julian Keogh, Dr TCK Brown and Alan Solomon