Lives of the fellows

Ellis William Abrahams

b.7 May 1918 d.5 May 2003
AM MB BS Melbourne(1941) MD(1946) MRCP(1947) MRACP(1968) FRACP(1972)

Ellis Abrahams will be best remembered for his life’s work treating and controlling tuberculosis in Queensland, Australia.

Two months before he sat finals, Ellis learned of X-rays showing a stable TB lesion. He was not accepted by the armed forces during the Second World War, but instead became assistant superintendant of the Royal Melbourne Hospital. He was awarded the MD from his university and left for London, where he worked for a year, mostly at the London Chest Hospital, married and gained his membership of the College.

In Australia, he became the first to assist Harry (later Sir Harry) Wunderly [Munk's Roll, Vol.VI, p.478], whose vision established the first Australia-wide mass radiography and good treatment for tuberculosis.

In 1949, Ellis was appointed director of tuberculosis for Queensland, where there were no facilities and no knowledge of drugs. He worked tirelessly to set up the mass radiography programme under which every part of the vast state was traversed three times by mobile X-ray vans. Massive film reading ensued for Ellis.

Travel was essential to supervise treatment in the coastal towns and Thursday Island, where the incidence was high.

In the early 1950s Chermside Chest Hospital was built, where Ellis led the team treating many patients. Time and care reduced the number of TB beds needed. The new name is the Prince Charles Hospital, accommodating chest, heart and transplant surgery, as well as tuberculosis.

It is generally thought by patients, staff and colleagues that Ellis tackled this monumental task pleasantly, efficiently and successfully. He was a quiet man, respected by other physicians and general practitioners. He was able to impart information and censure with support, which preserved confidence.

Mary Abrahams

(Volume XI, page 1)

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