Mr Ronald Bruce Davey OAM, FRCSEd, FRACS
Paediatric Surgeon
21 October 1931 - 22 June 2020

Bruce Davey, as he was known died on Monday 22 June 2020, after a long period of illness despite which his ‘faculties’ and determination remained to the very end!

Bruce was born in Newcastle, NSW, on 22-10-1931. After secondary education at Newcastle High School (1944-48) he attended Sydney University, graduating MBBS in 1955. He then served as RMO at Sydney Hospital in 1955, Royal Hobart Hospital in 1956 and Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, Camperdown in 1957 under Senior Paediatric Surgeon, Douglas Cohen. On Cohen’s advice, Bruce travelled to the UK ‘to get his Fellowship’ successfully achieving his FRCS in General Surgery, Edinburgh in 1960. After 4 years in general surgical positions, Bruce was appointed as Registrar to Peter Paul Rickham at Alder Hay Children’s Hospital, Liverpool.

1963 saw Bruce back in Australia as Deputy Superintendent Royal Hobart Hospital. Towards the end of this appointment, Bruce ‘transported’ a patient to the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, where he met the revered Douglas Stephens. As a result of that meeting Bruce was appointed Senior Surgical Registrar at the RCH in 1964. In the first six months of that appointment Bruce worked with Murray Clark, Peter Jones and Alan Wakefield, which clearly fostered his future interest in Paediatric Surgery and in particular in the treatment of burns. In the ensuing 18 months at RCH, Bruce worked with Douglas Stephens, Robert Fowler, Russell Howard and Nate Myers.

After a period in late 1966 as a locum General Surgeon in Darwin, Murray Clark arranged a position at RCH as clinical assistant to Peter Jones, thus further advancing Bruce’s ambition to pursue Paediatric Surgery. In 1967 he was appointed as Senior Surgical Registrar at the Adelaide Children’s Hospital. In 1970 he was appointed Clinical Assistant and in 1975 VMO at the ACH and Flinders Medical Centre. In 1976 Bruce joined the Burn Unit, becoming Director in 1980.

Over the ensuing years Bruce’s main interest was in burns and in particular in ‘Burns scar management’. With the dedication of Kate Perkins, burns physiotherapist, Bruce’s unit at WACH pioneered the use of contact media like ‘Silicone Gel’ (1981) and new dressings ‘Hypafix’ (1986). The last technique Bruce pioneered was the use of ‘thin meshed skin’, which allowed easy escape of serum under the graft (dispensing with the need to aspirate) and also resulting in improved appearance of the edge of the graft. To the end of his life he remained absolutely dedicated to the use of this meshed technique.

But Ronald Bruce Davey wasn’t only a respected Surgeon! Bruce was a convivial companion to many over his long working life and in various pursuits. Bruce was a skier of note frequenting the slopes at Bulla and Falls Creek with his tanned visage, rakish good looks and stylish dress.

Bruce loved his cricket. We had a strong interhospital competition including some good talent close to state level. Bruce bowled off spin, the wicket ball being the one that turned! I kept wickets while Bruce stood at first slip, wearing a Stetson hat with cigarette in hand. Occasionally ‘Once a year’ he would take a 1 handed ‘blinder’.

Bruce was also a keen Golfer. As a member at Grange Golf Club he had a wide circle of friends and played regularly into his late 70’s. Bruce and 3 Women’s and Children’s friends competed for the ‘Foreskins Trophy’ from 1989 to 2000 with Bruce being the overall winner. ‘We’ also competed annually for the Woman’s and Children’s Hospital trophy!

Bruce was an accomplished bridge player taking every free moment to win a trick e’n to the last weeks of his life.

He will be sadly missed.

J.K. Freeman MBBS (Adelaide)1968, FRACS (Sydney)1974
Former VMO, 1974-2013