Professor Douglas K Baird AM MBBS FRACS
Professor Douglas Baird was a truly great Australian.
His commitment to excellence in medicine and surgery was obvious as a medical undergraduate when, at Sydney University, he also completed a BSc in Medicine and won seven prizes including the University Medal. He developed a passion for cardiothoracic surgery whilst an intern at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) and became a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) in 1971.
As a trainee, he joined the third Australian Surgical Team to Vung Tau in the Republic of South Vietnam, where he served with great distinction.
He studied in New Zealand and the United States as a Clinical Fellow of the National Heart Foundation. He became a Visiting Medical Officer in the Cardiothoracic Surgical Unit at RPAH in 1974 and, five years later, became Head of the Department. Doug developed a unique surgical practice in Australasia, founded on the principles of mutual respect, co-operation and partner- ship. He believed firmly that surgical outcomes must be continually measured and improved and his commitment to research in surgery was unmistakable. He was instrumental in developing the Heart Research Institute in Sydney, while also developing surgical databases for his department at RPAH, and for the National Heart Foundation of Australia.
His keen intellect combined with his natural diplomacy made him an able administrator for both RPAH and Central Sydney Area Health Service. He was appointed as an advisor to the governments of Singapore and Malaysia, was Chairman of the Board of Studies in Cardiothoracic Surgery (RACS) and championed a new and compassionate approach to the development of surgeons, their training and their careers.
He was devoted to his patients whom he saw as friends. Many encounters in the operating room were to become lifelong friendships. Those of us who worked with him on a daily basis knew we were in the presence of greatness yet he made us feel that our ideas were worth listening to.
He was active in the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve and in the Scouting Association of Australia and, in 1992 was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to medicine and youth.
There was no better exemplar of the ideals of science, surgery, skill and sensitivity than Douglas Kevin Baird.
Doug developed a unique surgical practice founded on principles of mutual respect, co-operation and partnership. We are proud to honour his example.