Harold Zalin

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 18 September 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3716
  1. A M Zalin

    Harold Zalin was born in Liverpool to Jewish immigrant parents. He won a scholarship to Liverpool University. After graduation, resident posts, and a spell as a ship’s surgeon, he went into singlehanded general practice in the inner city. He developed an interest in ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgery under the tutelage of Alex Tumarkin, with whom he worked closely throughout his subsequent career. He took the FRCS (Ed) in 1947 and shortly thereafter was appointed consultant at Bootle General Hospital. He worked in various ENT units in Liverpool, retiring from Walton Hospital in 1980. He then continued for two years to fulfil an ENT commitment for the prison service at Walton gaol.

    The trajectory of his career coincided with a period of remarkable advances in aural microsurgery, which he adopted as his subspecialty. He was thrilled by the instantaneous restoration of hearing in osteosclerosis. He travelled to major centres in the United States and France to acquaint himself with the latest techniques and then worked assiduously on cadaveric material before embarking on new procedures in patients.

    He published several influential papers, including one on an ingenious treatment of submandibular salivary gland stone, avoiding local surgery by sectioning the chorda tympani and its secretomotor fibres in the middle ear.

    He was always irreverent both socially and professionally. Unusually for an ENT surgeon, he was an early critic of the frequency of resort to tonsillectomy, and he also deplored the practice of liberal packing of the nose and cauterisation of “bleeding points” in the treatment of nose bleed.

    In retirement he pursued his interest in bridge and golf, and then, in his final years, taught himself French by reading newspapers and novels. Indeed, a week before his death he completed Stendhal’s Le Rouge et le Noir in the original.

    He had a keen interest in his own mortality. Nevertheless, he became the last survivor of his own generation within his extended family. He was predeceased by Jeanette, his wife of 67 years standing, in 2008, and by a son and a grandson. He is survived by two children, one a retired physician; six grandchildren, two of whom are recently appointed consultant physicians; and three great-grandchildren.


    Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3716


    • Former consultant ear, nose, and throat surgeon Liverpool (b 1915; q Liverpool 1937; DLO, FRCS), d 15 July 2009.