ASJ Anniversary

6 THE GLEANER | SUNDAY, MARCH 3, 2019 I N MY opinion, the most impor- tant aspect of the ASJ was the fact that, of the four major clinical de- partments at the University College Hospital of the West Indies, medi- cine, obstetrics and gynaecology, and pathology were represented by local branches of overseas or- ganisations, while surgery was the first to be represented by a local professional association. John Golding, who arrived in 1954 as senior lecturer in orthopaedics, be- lieved that a local association was not only possible, but essential. He entered into discussions with the established surgeons in discussions with the established surgeons in the government medical service and the result was the formation of the Association of Surgeons in Jamaica (ASJ), based on a similar body in Great Britain. This was a big deal because it brought together the government and university sur- geons as a united body. During the latter part of the 1970s, because of the political tensions at the time and the high level of crime, there was a feeling of being in a ‘civil war’, and the re- sultingmarked public anxiety led to a state of panic. No one wanted to travel from or to areas around the island for scientific meetings. A state of emergencywas declared (1976-1977). Carpenter recalls a 2 a.m. journey from Half-Way Tree to the Bustamante Hospital for Children being a terrifying experience be- cause of the deathly quiet road- ways, with the reports of hold-ups by criminals in just such a circum- stance. This was the decade the ASJ nearly died! Meetings were difficult to organise and it seemed that that the organisation was about to collapse. One Saturday, Sir Harry Annamunthudo volunteered Carpenter to give the president of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, here onWHO business, a guided tour of the University Hospital. During the tour asked, he spoke about their first attempt at an overseas meeting which had been held in Egypt, but this had not gone well. Carpenter, with hope rather than expectation, asked whether there would be the possibility of holding a second one in Jamaica. He seemed open to the possibility, and, in due course, arrangements were set up between the college and the ASJ for ameeting at the end of 1978. The programmes were printed by the college and brought by their attendees. A few weeks before the due date, a political statement from Jamaica caused a significant num- ber of cancellations, but by having their travel agent come to Jamaica on an all-expenses paid visit to see for himself, most of the cancelled bookings were restored. The col- lege group was booked on British Airways and Air Jamaica. The day before the start of the conference, while the college group was at the airport, Air Jamaica cancelled its flight, but chaos was averted as the two airlines were persuaded to cooperate in making sure that the programmes and first-day present- ers were all on British Airways. In the end, the meeting was a resounding success! Everyone celebrated! Carpenter has fond memories of the last night of the meeting. During the closing banquet, there was torrential rain and the flooded roads made driving hazardous, but Carpenter and wife managed until near home when the car stalled on a side road near their home at Half-Way Tree. Carpenter stripped to his underwear, pushed the car into the heavy waters pouring down Hope Road, which would carry it down to the gate of their home, his wife at the wheel while Carpenter, in underwear only, ran after it. A passing police car paused, presumably intrigued by the sight, shook their heads and drove on. Fortunately, or the ASJ president may have had some explaining to do! Next morning, after all our guests had departed, we found that one of our lecture rooms was under water. This meeting turned out to be the stimulus that was needed. The ASJ was alive again. (Memories of Professor Carpenter as told by Dr Mark Newnham) PROFESSOR REGINALD CARPENTER Former Head The Department of Surgery University Hospital of theWest Indies Professor John Golding mingles with the crowd. Prof Carpenter looks on at Honourable Mavis Gilmore and her husband, Dr Gilmore. ASSOCIATION OF SURGEONS IN JAMAICA 60TH ANNIV SARY FEATURE: THE SUNDAY GLEANER MAGAZINE | MARCH 3, 2019 The birth of the ASJ and when the association almost died Harry Annamunthodo and Prof Michael Woo Ming.