On behalf of the Austin Health Medical Alumni Association, I am very sad to acknowledge the recent death of Mr Laurence (Laurie) Simpson. He was one of our esteemed senior colleagues who served Austin Health for many years with great distinction.

He will be remembered.

I asked Mr Simon Knight (Head of Thoracic Surgery at Austin Health) to write an Obituary for Laurie, and it is included with this email.

Gwynne Thomas

Emeritus A/Professor Gwynne W Thomas  OAM

President, Austin Health Medical Alumni Association.

Mr Laurence Simpson OAM
25 February 1932 – 30 September 2019

The Senior Medical Staff of the Austin Hospital note with great sadness the passing of one of its alumni. Mr Laurence “Laurie” Simpson died on the 30th of September at 87 years of age. He had a long affiliation with the Austin Hospital and had served with great distinction as one of the hospital’s Thoracic Surgeons.

He first joined the Austin in 1961 as an Assistant surgeon working with many of the surgical luminaries of the time. After several years working in Korea as a missionary surgeon he returned to the Austin in 1971 as a Thoracic surgeon. He was later appointed to the Head of Unit and served in this role for many years. Despite being primarily focussed on Pulmonary Surgery he was also instrumental in the establishment of the Austin’s Open Heart Surgery Unit. In 1972 Laurie and Dr David Thomas developed a Coronary Catheterisation program in the X-ray department at the Austin.

Laurie’s initial interest had been in the treatment of Tuberculosis but as the number of patients with this disease declined, he focussed his attention on the rising incidence of patients with Lung cancer and other diseases of the Chest. A close affiliation was also forged with the Thoracic services of the Repatriation Hospital.

Education and teaching had always been a high priority for Laurie and he spent many hours with Registrars, Residents and Nursing staff training them and encouraging their academic growth. As a result, he was sought after to speak at the Graduation ceremonies of groups that he had taught. His commitment to teaching continued even after he had retired from active Surgical practice when he took up the post of Director of Education at Epworth Private Hospital in Richmond.

Presumably as a result of his years spent treating lung cancer Laurie was an ardent campaigner against smoking and was persistent in his attempts to stop members of staff and his patients smoking.

Laurie had a strong religious conviction and was an energetic participant in the activities of the Baptist community in Australia. This commitment to his faith also saw Laurie engaged in missionary work in Korea as a surgeon in his younger years. The experienced gained from this provided Laurie with a unique and unsurpassed grounding in many areas of surgery none the least of which was his chosen field of Thoracics.

Another of Laurie’s “extracurricular” interests was history and specifically the history of medicine. He had written a number of informative and entertaining articles on the subject providing some refreshing insight into the history of the profession.

Laurie has given freely of his time and has been tireless in efforts to improve the lot of his patients, his students, colleagues and the community at large.
He will be sorely missed.

Simon Knight                 


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