Lives of the fellows

George Hippolyte Wattley

b.27 December 1917 d.17 May 2001
MB ChB Bristol(1942) MD(1948) MRCP(1948) DTM&H FACC(1972) FRCP(1974)

George Wattley was regarded as a father figure in cardiology in Trindad and Tobago. Shortly after his appointment to the post of specialist medical officer in government service at Port of Spain General Hospital in 1959, he carried out the first right heart catheterization procedure in the English speaking Caribbean and proceeded to develop a vibrant cardiac department at that hospital.

He was a gifted student and gained entry to one of the two premier secondary establishments in Trindad, St. Mary's College, by winning a government exhibition. His family was of modest means and George was able to pursue a career in medicine by winning an island scholarship in science. This award was made to the student securing the highest marks in the Cambridge higher school certificate examination.

George entered Bristol University Medical School in 1937. Following the outbreak of the Second World War he contributed to the war effort by serving with the blood transfusion team at Bristol Royal Infirmary as a member of the Colonial Medical Service.

He returned to Trinidad in 1944 and served in the government medical service for twenty three years, the last two of which were spent in an administrative capacity as superintending medical officer of the largest general hospital in the country. His main area of practice was cardiology, but he also evinced an interest in dermatology, his opinion in this field often being sought. In 1950 he served as medical superintendent at the Leprosarium in Chacachacare, a little island off the coast of Trinidad.

Despite his busy schedule, he found time for research, presenting and publishing fine papers on many topics, including myocardial infarction, diabetes and arrhythmias, to name a few.

George held many public appointments, and, in 1975, in recognition of his many years of devoted service to the nation, he was awarded Tinidad's second highest award, the Chaconia medal (gold). The Caribbean Cardiac Society, of which he was a founding member, honoured him at a special citation in Jamaica in 1999.

He was a man of considerable reserve, perhaps shy, obviously of a very brilliant mind, not suffering fools gladly. When one got to know him, he was clearly a man of considerable personal charm, genial, witty, a great raconteur and perfect host. I recall the occasions when I visited him at home during his last illness when he never failed to offer me a drink! He developed dysrhythmia and cardiac insufficiency during the last year of his life and died of cardiac failure.

He married Margaret Travis in England in 1948. They had two children, a son and a daughter.

Winston E Ince

(Volume XI, page 608)

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