Martin Hunter Christie
23 March 1946 - 8 February 2014
Martin was born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1946. He was the eldest son of Richard Christie, an attorney and pilot, and the journalist Phillippa Berlyn. He attended boarding school from the age of seven. He was inspired to study medicine after a conversation with a family friend and consequently attended and graduated from the University of Rhodesia (now the University of Zimbabwe) in 1971.
Shortly after graduating he joined the Rhodesian Army Health Corps. He suffered a spinal injury during a coaching parachute jump with the SAS. The story has it that he lay patiently amid the rocks till discovered by his comrades, then instructed them on how he must be moved.
He moved to Australia and trained in neurosurgery, obtaining his FRACS. He practised in Sydney for several years and then started a life as an "itinerant neurosurgeon" as he described himself. He worked in some of the most remote and demanding places in the planet, from Papua New Guinea to the island republic of Kiribati. In the 1990's he worked in a Saudi military facility treating the war-wounded from Iraq, Bosnia and Yemen. He served numerous terms as a civilian contractor in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2009 and taught in South Sudan in the chaotic aftermath of its independence.
He did not talk about his performance in these places, often preferring to listen rather than bask in any limelight. Even so, vivid fragments remain in the memories of those who knew him well - a photo of a Polynesian lady with a fishing spear through her chest sitting calmly in his waiting area; a diary entry about insects landing on a patient's exposed brain during a surgical procedure in a tent in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
He was survived by his wife Mary and their three children, four children from his first marriage and three grandchildren.
In the last year of his life when he knew he was dying of cancer he wrote "I have had an intriguing and fulfilling life and I have most likely helped quite a few along the way. I cannot request more than that."
Compiled by Glenn McCulloch FRACS from published obituaries.