John Oldroyd Forfar

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 05 December 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f5982
  1. J Colin Forfar

John Oldroyd Forfar was born in Glasgow, a son of the Manse, as the carnage of the Somme offensive was ending. With boundless energy and zest for life, he packed a great deal into almost a century of living. Although it is usually the prerogative of the older generation to wax lyrical about their offspring, on this special occasion permit me to reverse the roles.

John Forfar graduated in medicine from St Andrews University. In common with so many soldiers returning from the horrors of the second world war, he had some early uncertainties about career path and options but was always one to exploit opportunities. After some forays into infectious disease, paediatrics as a specialty beckoned, and after specialty training and an early consultant appointment in Dundee, he moved to Edinburgh in 1950, where he practised clinical and academic paediatrics and child life and health for some 32 years. As a child, I visited the Western and Eastern General and Leith hospitals on numerous occasions and remember friendly and generous units. Christmas was always a highlight, with great caring across all staff and a great sense of vocation perhaps less obvious in our current technological world. John Forfar obtained his MD with commendation in 1958, initiating a lifelong research interest in neonatology. He moved to the Sick Children’s Hospital in Edinburgh in 1964 on appointment to the Edward Clark Chair of Chair of Child Life and Health, the first of its kind in the UK. In his inaugural lecture, he challenged the status of children’s hospitals and their low priority in healthcare, making an emphatic case for specialisation within paediatrics. He played an active part in the establishment of the neonatal special care unit in the Simpson Memorial Maternity Pavilion of the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh …

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