Daryl Heath Nye FRACS
3 November 1939 - 9 December 2013
For the 25 years between 1974 and 1999, Daryl and I worked closely together in the Neurosurgical Unit at St Vincent's Hospital, Fitzroy and so I am well placed to record many aspects of his life and career.
Daryl's primary and secondary education was at Wesley College from where he matriculated with honours in 1957. He graduated with the degrees of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Melbourne Medical School in 1963. After two years of residency at St Vincent's Hospital he followed me as the Neurosurgical Registrar.
He spent the next two years in the Anatomy Department of the University of Melbourne as a demonstrator and researcher. During this time he passed the Primary examination for the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. His published research from that time includes three papers on the vascular anatomy of the human liver.
He began training in general surgery in 1969 and in 1970 and 1971 he was again the Neurosurgical Registrar in Keith Henderson's unit at St Vincent's Hospital. In November 1971 he was admitted to Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.
For the next two years Daryl worked in England at the Manchester Royal Infirmary with Richard Johnson who was at the time a doyen in British neurosurgery. It was during this time that he began his lifetime interest in the management of intracranial aneurysms and benign tumours of the brain. I well remember his description of and excitement at the invention of CT scanner and other new technology available to him at Manchester. It would be four years before we had a CT scanner at St Vincent's Hospital.
Daryl was appointed as a Neurosurgeon to St Vincent's Hospital in 1974 and he held that position until his retirement from the Hospital in 2001 - a total overall of 32 years of service!
Particularly in the earlier years of his appointment we were close colleagues and we shared much of our working hours side by side in the operating theatre or elsewhere in the hospital. Our operating days often lasted well into the night and it was a delight to then spend some rest time with him and swap stories and ideas - often over a Gin and Tonic.
Daryl was serious when needed but at times he was great fun. He did enjoy life. Ward parties and Theatre Christmas parties spring to mind.
Daryl was very much a private person but as we spent so many special times together I became privy to much of his life outside medicine. I became aware of his devotion to his family and the high value he placed on his marriage and family life. Daryl married his best friend's sister Jan Sumner in 1963 and they had three children Anthony, Elisabeth and Michael and two grandchildren Isabella and Alex.
Daryl would have fads from time to time but most of his interests lasted for years. In his youth there was long board surfing which gave way to a lifelong interest in boating and sailing. His love of fast cars was nurtured in the nearby garage of the racing ace of the time Reg Hunt. Daryl never missed a Grand Prix. For a while he was a keen golfer. For years his riding helmet took pride of place at the centre of the rear window of his vehicle. He was enthusiastic about dressage, clay target shooting, fine cars, classical music, fine food and good wine, particularly champagne.
Daryl was not a great traveller until recent years but when he did travel he travelled well. He is the only person I know to have flown in the Concorde.
He was a kind and caring doctor, particularly to his patients and to nursing and paramedical staff in the operating theatres and the wards. He never had a harsh word for anybody. In the operating theatre he was a quiet, courteous and competent surgeon who carefully practised the techniques he had learnt or developed. He was uncompromising in his routines and his attention to detail. He was a general neurosurgeon with sound surgical practice and skill.
During his years at St Vincent's he also consulted in Private Practice and held Consultant appointments at the Geelong Hospital, Box Hill Hospital, Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and Werribee Mercy Hospital.
He presented papers on neurosurgical matters at scientific meetings of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, the Neurosurgical Society of Australasia and other learned societies. His publications are recorded in his curriculum vitae and include reports on clinical cases and among other topics studies on the intraoperative effects of diuretics and anaesthesia on the human brain.
Daryl served as a Member of the Court of Examiners of The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons from 1986 until 1997, inclusive and in the last three years he was the Chief Examiner in Neurosurgery. He had a reputation as a good and fair examiner.
Daryl had great respect admiration and gratitude for two persons in particular, Keith Henderson and Richard Johnson who together contributed most to his training in Neurosurgery.
Daryl continued with his busy medico-legal practice until his unexpected death last December.
It will be some time before my memories of Daryl will fade.
Contributed by Dr Jim Cummins who was a member of the Neurosurgery Department at St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne from 1971-1999 and was its Director from 1987 - 1999.