Thomas J. Connelley
MB BS (Syd) 1951, FRCS, (Eng) FRACS 1960
15 April 1926 - 26 December 2018
Assistant Neurosurgeon, St Vincent's Hospital, 1963 -1971 Neurosurgeon, St Vincent's Hospital, 1971 -1992.
Thomas Connelley was born on 15 April 1926 and educated at St Ignatius' College, Riverview, in Sydney. He enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Sydney, graduating Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery in 1951. His father had also been a medical graduate of the University of Sydney.
He undertook residency at St Vincent's Hospital in 1952, and spent the second half of that year with Sir Douglas Miller. St Vincent's had twenty residents, but only between six and eight were kept on for a second year, of whom Dr Connelley was one. He then became Neurosurgical Registrar, the first person to hold this position at St Vincent's Hospital.
In 1954, he left for England, where he studied for his Fellowship after taking the College course for the Primary. In the same year, he was appointed as a house surgeon in general surgery at the Guildford Hospital and then went to Queens Square under the supervision of Harvey Jackson, who had been involved in the development of medullary tractotomy for trigeminal neuralgia, and wrote extensively on orbital tumours. Dr Connelley lived in the hospital during this time with occasional visits from family on weekends.
From 1955-1958, Dr Connelley remained at Queens Square, and in his final years became Senior Registrar. Aside from clinical duties, he performed a lot of ventriculograms, lumbar air study, angiography and cisternal punctures.
In May 1959, he visited Glen Spurling in Louisville Kentucky, who had been trained by Cushing and who subsequently founded the American Academy of Neurological Surgeons in 1931.
Returning to Sydney, he took up appointments at Lewisham, the Mater, Bankstown and Concord Hospitals. He was also appointed at St Margaret's Hospital and had a busy (neonatal) paediatrics practice. His main interest was in adult neurosurgery, however, especially vascular and tumour surgery and,flowing from his time with Harvey Jackson, tumours of the orbit. He was an enthusiastic microsurgeon, and was happiest treating an aneurysm.
During his time of appointment, Drs Peter Cahill and Gerald Lim were appointed as specialist Neuroradiologists. Peter Cahill had been trained by James Ball at Queens Square. The appointment of Neurorodiologists contributed significantly to the development of Connelley's neurosurgical practice. He was part of a private group who installed a CT scanner for the St Vincent's Campus in the Private Hospital during the 1970s. He was involved in hospital committees and for a time was Chairman of the Medical Board and Chairman of Neurosurgery.
Dr Connelley and his wife Joan had six children. Outside of medicine, he maintained a regular commitment to golf throughout his life and was regularly to be found on Wednesday afternoons playing golf at Royal Sydney Golf Club; it was a brave Registrar who disturbed that game of golf!
This obituary was kindly provided by Dr Malcolm Pell, St Vincent's Private Hospital.