We all mourn the death of Dr Peter Jeffery, a giant in the administration of Surgery in South Africa. He was a loyal servant of ASSA over two decades. Originally an elected member of the Executive Committee, he became our Secretary in 1992. In 1995 Peter became treasurer when Ray Dawson succeeded him as Secretary. He was our President during 1998/9, succeeded by Paul Cooke. Both during and after his Presidency, he continued as Treasurer, finally stopping when Sats Pillay was elected President on 2009.  In 2011 he was elected an Honorary Life Vice-President of ASSA.peter_jeffery_2

During these years he was full of innovation and energy and was the primary architect of the combined biennial congress which would incorporate the sub-specialty societies under one umbrella I remember him excitedly showing me his diagram explaining the structure and purpose of this re-organisation of General Surgical congresses. This co-operation between the societies laid the foundation and was the forerunner of the recently established Federation of South African Surgeons (FoSAS), which has now become an important part of our surgico-political landscape.

He also served on the VASSA exco for many years and was its President. He pioneered vascular ultrasound and endovascular surgery in this country. Additionally, at significant personal cost, he rescued Vascular Surgery at Groote Schuur, by taking on its headship in 1999 after Professor Ed Immelman's retirement left a huge void. He did this in addition to both his private practice and ASSA commitments, as well as chairing the Kingsbury hospital board. All these duties reflect Peter's utter selflessness and loyalty to his colleagues and his surgical vocation. In addition to his superb surgical skills, he was a wonderful teacher and mentor to many young surgeons.

Few will know that he was the first surgical trainee to train in endoscopy with Professor Solly Marks, and introduced endoscopy into private surgical practice in South Africa. In our practice reception lounge, we have a wonderful photograph of the four retired endoscopy pioneers, Peter, Solly Marks, Flip Bornman and Syd Cullis, holding the first gastroscope used in South Africa. Just another contribution he made to South African Surgery.

peter_jeffery_1In the 1970's, he represented South Africa at the Hobie Cat World Championships both in Brownsville, Texas and the next time in the Caribbean. Peter always reckoned they would have got a medal but for one race spoilt by a broken rudder!

Peter was the founder of our practice in Cape Town, my partner for 18 years and a personal mentor. It has been bitterly sad to witness the fall of this giant surgical Redwood. Yet he faced his rare and completely unexpected illness, with typical courage, and was able to keep his dignity and humour intact - right to the end. The last time I saw him shortly before he died, he wanted to know what was going on in ASSA affairs.

Peter was a wonderful family man and the eulogies by his son and daughter were utterly compelling. I know that I speak on behalf of all surgeons in South Africa, in passing on our sad condolences to his wife Muffy, and Colin and Lucy and the grandchildren on their untimely loss of Peter, one of our country's greatest surgeons.

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Professor R Baigrie
President: ASSA

2 Comments

  1. Dear prof baigrie, I echo your sentiments Peter was a great leader and well respected in the surgical fraternity his absence will leave a great void we from the vascular society acknowledged him as on of the greats my condolences to his family Talib

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