John Shoesmith, surgeon

John Shoesmith
John Shoesmith
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John Harrop Shoesmith, who has died at 92, was an eminent surgeon in Leeds, who had been in the 1950s a junior member of the team led by the late Geoffrey Wooler which pioneered open heart surgery in Britain.

The team was at the forefront of work with the heart-lung machine, and was instrumental in bringing one of three prototypes to the General Infirmary at Leeds.

At the time of his retirement in 1989, Mr Shoesmith had spent 28 years as a consultant general and vascular surgeon at the Infirmary and at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

Born in Halifax, he graduated from the University of Leeds in 1948 and the Fellowship of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons in 1952.

He was house surgeon to his teaching hospital and worked also at St James’s Hospital in Leeds, as a registrar.

During his training years he developed a particular interest in thoracic surgery, and was appointed consultant general surgeon to the Leeds Infirmary upon the retirement of the late Digby Chamberlain.

The surgical firm he formed with Henry Shucksmith was the first to develop an interest in the expanding speciality of vascular surgery, and he was one of the junior founder members of the Vascular Surgical Society of Great Britain and Ireland, becoming its president in 1968 when it held its annual meeting in Leeds.

He was Yorkshire Regional Adviser to the General Secretary to the Royal College of surgeons, and was consulted on many surgical appointments across the north of England.

In his younger years, he played rugby for Yorkshire, but a leg injury brought that part of his career to a premature end. However, he continued to play golf and was captain of the Alwoodley club in Leeds.

He met his wife, Irene Jolley, in London during his national service at Millbank military hospital. They were married for 64 years until her death in January 2016. He is survived by their two sons, David and Michael.

He died at Leeds General Infirmary, where he had worked for most of his professional life.