Obituary: David Lane – meticulous surgeon and gifted musician

David Lane: September 22nd, 1927 – October 17th, 2015

David Lane, who has died aged 88, was an outstanding and admired Dublin surgeon and an accomplished musician.

He spent his working career in what is now the Dublin Voluntary Hospitals Federation, firstly at the Meath Hospital and National Children's Hospital and subsequently at Sir Patrick Dun's. He had a great affection for Monkstown Hospital too and frequently carried out major surgery to world standards within its modest confines.

He was born in Bognor, Sussex, the youngest son of Dr SA Lane who had served in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the Great War and who had settled there as a surgeon and GP. His mother, Dorothy Purefoy, came from a distinguished Dublin family. He attended Aravon School in Bray, Co Wicklow and then Oakham School in Rutland, England, where he was head boy.

At Trinity College, Dublin he was college champion in the 100 yards, the 220 yards and the long jump and played rugby as a wing three-quarter.


He graduated MB (TCD) with honours and first place in all subjects in 1950 and then took the fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (England) and the fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 1954.

His postgraduate training in surgery was at Sir Patrick Dun's, Leicester Royal Infirmary, the Royal United Hospitals, Bath and then back to Leicester Royal.

He was appointed assistant surgeon to the Meath Hospital and the National Children's Hospital, Harcourt Street from 1956 and 1966. He moved to Sir Patrick Dun's from 1966 to 1988 and was consultant surgeon to Monkstown Hospital from 1957 to 1987.

‘Surgeon’s surgeon’

A general surgeon with a special interest in gastroenterology and colorectal work, he was a meticulous, immaculate, craftsman who worked to the highest standards. He was the ultimate “surgeon’s surgeon”, and operated on many doctors and other surgeons.

He never put himself forward for high office and thus the RCSI over time was denied a wonderful president. But his colleagues recognised his worth by electing him president of the surgical section of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Ireland from 1986 to 1988.

He was in every way the antithesis of the stereotypical flamboyant irascible cartoon figure of a surgeon, being determinedly low key in almost every facet of his life.

Outside surgery his other passion was the oboe, one of the most difficult instruments in the orchestra. He was, for more than 30 years, oboist with the Dublin Baroque Players. He also played with the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra and broadcast as a soloist many times. Typically he cut and carved his own reeds for this unforgiving instrument. His other interests included fly-fishing, dinghy sailing, poetry, gardening and photography and he had a great love of all animals.

He married Marjorie Hammond, a Leicester Royal nursing sister, in 1956. Her death three years ago affected him greatly. He is survived by his daughter, Gillian, and son, Peter.