Samuel Laird Galbraith

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 04 November 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6062
  1. Matthew Limb, London
  1. limb{at}

Consultant neurosurgeon, Labour MP, and world’s longest surviving lung transplant patient

Herald and Times Group

Few doctors, however distinguished, become legends as patients. But Sam Galbraith, renowned neurologist turned government minister, came to be the world’s longest surviving lung transplant patient after a lifesaving operation in his 40s. “It’s not a title I like—there’s only one way to go after that,” he once told a friend.

An outstanding anatomy student, Galbraith was Glasgow University’s top medicine and surgery graduate in 1971, and became house surgeon to Andrew Watt Kay at the city’s Western Infirmary. He came to neurosurgery in 1972, having had his interest stimulated by experiences at Glasgow and on an international exchange in Chicago.

“He sort of burst onto the neurological scene,” says Graham Teasdale, emeritus professor of neurosurgery at the University of Glasgow, who was his lecturer and became a close friend. Galbraith was attracted by the exciting environment in neurosurgery that was developing in Glasgow, and was part of an “intellectual clinical driving force” of like-minded surgeons. “There were four years,” says Teasdale, “where he did some absolutely seminal work in intracranial haematomas.” This work was the basis for the MD he would be awarded in 1977. As a student, Galbraith …

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