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Mack Holmes was born in Dunedin 11 June 1935 and educated in part at Harrow in England when his father was an agricultural advisor for the British government. The family returned to Dunedin, where his father was Superintendent of Invermay Research Station. Mack completed his education at Otago Boys High School before entering Otago Medical School, graduating MB ChB in 1958. He spent the next two years in resident positions at Dunedin Hospital, before commencing anaesthetic registrar training in 1961 also at Dunedin Hopsital. He was awarded a prestigious Nuffield Clinical Assistantship to continue postgraduate studies at the Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics in Oxford. Mack was the second registrar from the Dunedin Anaesthesia Department to be awarded this position in Oxford, following Jim Clayton who preceded him in 1960.

Early in 1962 he travelled to Oxford with his wife Janet and new baby Geoff to take up the scholarship. In the Nuffield Department Mack became involved in studies on post-operative pain under the guidance of its first assistant, Dr James Parkhouse, resulting in a number of publications. However before leaving Dunedin, Mack had rediscovered the so-called Bier’s block. With availability of newer safer local analgesic agents while in Oxford he was able to further investigate the technique, and re-popularised it as a very simple method of providing anaesthesia for hand and arm procedures. The technique of intravenous regional analgesia immediately caught on and led to a number of publications and speaking engagements, in particular a landmark paper in the Lancet which gained worldwide publicity of the technique, which soon became widely used by non-anaesthetists and made his name in anaesthetics internationally. While in Oxford, Mack completed the English anaesthesia fellowship in 1963 before returning to Dunedin in 1965 to a specialist position in Dunedin Hospital and Lecturer in Anaesthesia at Otago Medical School. In 1969 he was elected FFARACS and in 1970 promoted to Senior Lecturer.

It soon became apparent that Mack was not one to sit on his hands. In 1972 with the proposed introduction of the cardiac surgery unit for the South Island, he contributed along with Dr Trevor Dobinson and Professor Pat Molloy to setting up the cardiac theatre and post-operative cardiac care unit. His analytical mind and innovative approach resulted in changes from traditional techniques to the eventual avoidance of nitrous oxide, delivery of volatile anaesthesia supplements in very low flow systems for both economy and pollution reduction, then wholly intravenous anaesthesia techniques, on all of which he published widely. Simultaneously he championed the undesirability of operating theatre pollution and contributed to establishing a passive scavenging system in the Dunedin operating theatres early 1973–74.

Mack’s regular attendance at New Zealand and overseas anaesthetic meetings revealed his popularity as a speaker and appreciation of his innovative and discerning mind. Audiences could always guarantee to be educated, and entertained through a repertoire of humorous anecdotes. He was the author or co-author of more than 30 papers, and wrote an excellent monograph on Sir Robert Macintosh, “A Famous New Zealander”, the foundation Chair of Anaesthesia in the Nuffield Department of Anaesthesia, Oxford University, the first such chair in the UK. Interestingly Sir Robert was a second cousin once removed—Mack’s great-grandmother was a sister of Sir Robert’s grandfather.

Mack was elected to New Zealand regional committee of the Faculty of Anaesthetists in the 1970s, becoming its chairman in 1978. In 1982 he was elected to the Board of Faculty and appointed its honorary librarian 1982–90, Chairman of Education Committee 1985, a primary examiner for 12 years until 1987 and occasional final examiner, before retiring from the Board of Faculty in 1990. In 2009 the New Zealand Society of Anaesthetists honoured him with life membership.

Mack had an encyclopaedic mind eminently suited to crosswords. While travelling to College activities from Dunedin he did the Daily Telegraph puzzle on the 45-minute flight to Christchurch and The Times one in three hours to Melbourne! He had a love for languages, was fluent in conversational French and had a good working knowledge and understanding of Russian, Italian, German and Mandarin.

Outside of medicine his life was more than full with a growing family of four sons and their demands. However, that didn’t stop him from becoming a competent sailor and crewing a colleague’s Cavalier class 32 yacht on which he was able to entertain department members from time to time. Likewise he held a private pilot licence, became a medical examiner for certification of pilots and a life member of Otago Aero Club. As part of a syndicate owning a Piper Cherokee plane he frequently entertained and sometimes unnerved fellow anaesthetists and friends who flew with him. Mack’s first wife Janet died suddenly in 1978, and he married Lyn in 1981. As a keen tramper enjoying outdoor life he explored much of Otago’s scenery, and even at 80 tramped with family. As a qualified scuba-diver he managed some diving at Port Douglas and Tahiti on his travels.

On retiring from his Dunedin Hospital position in 1992 he took up full-time private practice at the Mercy Hospital where previously he had been in part-time practice for some years. After final retirement from anaesthetic practice in 2007 he continued working as a locum medical officer in provincial hospitals Gore, Balclutha and Clyde. Once completely retired there was plenty to keep him occupied, for example volunteer and active member of Dunedin gasworks museum and the Taieri Gorge Railway. Mack and Lyn travelled extensively throughout Europe and Asia, sailed with colleagues in the Mediterranean, Greek islands and several sailing visits to Tahiti.

Mack Holmes will be remembered by his colleagues as a talented dedicated anaesthetist who took a strong interest in teaching and mentoring registrars for their future roles. He died peacefully in Dunedin Hospital on 26 March 2020 after a brief illness, although he had by then been on peritoneal dialysis for some 18 months. He will be sadly missed by friends, colleagues and family alike. He is survived by his wife Lyn, four sons, a stepdaughter and six grandchildren.

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Obituary compiled by Drs Jim Clayton, David Jones and Prof Barry Baker.

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

For the PDF of this article,
contact nzmj@nzma.org.nz

View Article PDF

Mack Holmes was born in Dunedin 11 June 1935 and educated in part at Harrow in England when his father was an agricultural advisor for the British government. The family returned to Dunedin, where his father was Superintendent of Invermay Research Station. Mack completed his education at Otago Boys High School before entering Otago Medical School, graduating MB ChB in 1958. He spent the next two years in resident positions at Dunedin Hospital, before commencing anaesthetic registrar training in 1961 also at Dunedin Hopsital. He was awarded a prestigious Nuffield Clinical Assistantship to continue postgraduate studies at the Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics in Oxford. Mack was the second registrar from the Dunedin Anaesthesia Department to be awarded this position in Oxford, following Jim Clayton who preceded him in 1960.

Early in 1962 he travelled to Oxford with his wife Janet and new baby Geoff to take up the scholarship. In the Nuffield Department Mack became involved in studies on post-operative pain under the guidance of its first assistant, Dr James Parkhouse, resulting in a number of publications. However before leaving Dunedin, Mack had rediscovered the so-called Bier’s block. With availability of newer safer local analgesic agents while in Oxford he was able to further investigate the technique, and re-popularised it as a very simple method of providing anaesthesia for hand and arm procedures. The technique of intravenous regional analgesia immediately caught on and led to a number of publications and speaking engagements, in particular a landmark paper in the Lancet which gained worldwide publicity of the technique, which soon became widely used by non-anaesthetists and made his name in anaesthetics internationally. While in Oxford, Mack completed the English anaesthesia fellowship in 1963 before returning to Dunedin in 1965 to a specialist position in Dunedin Hospital and Lecturer in Anaesthesia at Otago Medical School. In 1969 he was elected FFARACS and in 1970 promoted to Senior Lecturer.

It soon became apparent that Mack was not one to sit on his hands. In 1972 with the proposed introduction of the cardiac surgery unit for the South Island, he contributed along with Dr Trevor Dobinson and Professor Pat Molloy to setting up the cardiac theatre and post-operative cardiac care unit. His analytical mind and innovative approach resulted in changes from traditional techniques to the eventual avoidance of nitrous oxide, delivery of volatile anaesthesia supplements in very low flow systems for both economy and pollution reduction, then wholly intravenous anaesthesia techniques, on all of which he published widely. Simultaneously he championed the undesirability of operating theatre pollution and contributed to establishing a passive scavenging system in the Dunedin operating theatres early 1973–74.

Mack’s regular attendance at New Zealand and overseas anaesthetic meetings revealed his popularity as a speaker and appreciation of his innovative and discerning mind. Audiences could always guarantee to be educated, and entertained through a repertoire of humorous anecdotes. He was the author or co-author of more than 30 papers, and wrote an excellent monograph on Sir Robert Macintosh, “A Famous New Zealander”, the foundation Chair of Anaesthesia in the Nuffield Department of Anaesthesia, Oxford University, the first such chair in the UK. Interestingly Sir Robert was a second cousin once removed—Mack’s great-grandmother was a sister of Sir Robert’s grandfather.

Mack was elected to New Zealand regional committee of the Faculty of Anaesthetists in the 1970s, becoming its chairman in 1978. In 1982 he was elected to the Board of Faculty and appointed its honorary librarian 1982–90, Chairman of Education Committee 1985, a primary examiner for 12 years until 1987 and occasional final examiner, before retiring from the Board of Faculty in 1990. In 2009 the New Zealand Society of Anaesthetists honoured him with life membership.

Mack had an encyclopaedic mind eminently suited to crosswords. While travelling to College activities from Dunedin he did the Daily Telegraph puzzle on the 45-minute flight to Christchurch and The Times one in three hours to Melbourne! He had a love for languages, was fluent in conversational French and had a good working knowledge and understanding of Russian, Italian, German and Mandarin.

Outside of medicine his life was more than full with a growing family of four sons and their demands. However, that didn’t stop him from becoming a competent sailor and crewing a colleague’s Cavalier class 32 yacht on which he was able to entertain department members from time to time. Likewise he held a private pilot licence, became a medical examiner for certification of pilots and a life member of Otago Aero Club. As part of a syndicate owning a Piper Cherokee plane he frequently entertained and sometimes unnerved fellow anaesthetists and friends who flew with him. Mack’s first wife Janet died suddenly in 1978, and he married Lyn in 1981. As a keen tramper enjoying outdoor life he explored much of Otago’s scenery, and even at 80 tramped with family. As a qualified scuba-diver he managed some diving at Port Douglas and Tahiti on his travels.

On retiring from his Dunedin Hospital position in 1992 he took up full-time private practice at the Mercy Hospital where previously he had been in part-time practice for some years. After final retirement from anaesthetic practice in 2007 he continued working as a locum medical officer in provincial hospitals Gore, Balclutha and Clyde. Once completely retired there was plenty to keep him occupied, for example volunteer and active member of Dunedin gasworks museum and the Taieri Gorge Railway. Mack and Lyn travelled extensively throughout Europe and Asia, sailed with colleagues in the Mediterranean, Greek islands and several sailing visits to Tahiti.

Mack Holmes will be remembered by his colleagues as a talented dedicated anaesthetist who took a strong interest in teaching and mentoring registrars for their future roles. He died peacefully in Dunedin Hospital on 26 March 2020 after a brief illness, although he had by then been on peritoneal dialysis for some 18 months. He will be sadly missed by friends, colleagues and family alike. He is survived by his wife Lyn, four sons, a stepdaughter and six grandchildren.

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Obituary compiled by Drs Jim Clayton, David Jones and Prof Barry Baker.

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

For the PDF of this article,
contact nzmj@nzma.org.nz

View Article PDF

Mack Holmes was born in Dunedin 11 June 1935 and educated in part at Harrow in England when his father was an agricultural advisor for the British government. The family returned to Dunedin, where his father was Superintendent of Invermay Research Station. Mack completed his education at Otago Boys High School before entering Otago Medical School, graduating MB ChB in 1958. He spent the next two years in resident positions at Dunedin Hospital, before commencing anaesthetic registrar training in 1961 also at Dunedin Hopsital. He was awarded a prestigious Nuffield Clinical Assistantship to continue postgraduate studies at the Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics in Oxford. Mack was the second registrar from the Dunedin Anaesthesia Department to be awarded this position in Oxford, following Jim Clayton who preceded him in 1960.

Early in 1962 he travelled to Oxford with his wife Janet and new baby Geoff to take up the scholarship. In the Nuffield Department Mack became involved in studies on post-operative pain under the guidance of its first assistant, Dr James Parkhouse, resulting in a number of publications. However before leaving Dunedin, Mack had rediscovered the so-called Bier’s block. With availability of newer safer local analgesic agents while in Oxford he was able to further investigate the technique, and re-popularised it as a very simple method of providing anaesthesia for hand and arm procedures. The technique of intravenous regional analgesia immediately caught on and led to a number of publications and speaking engagements, in particular a landmark paper in the Lancet which gained worldwide publicity of the technique, which soon became widely used by non-anaesthetists and made his name in anaesthetics internationally. While in Oxford, Mack completed the English anaesthesia fellowship in 1963 before returning to Dunedin in 1965 to a specialist position in Dunedin Hospital and Lecturer in Anaesthesia at Otago Medical School. In 1969 he was elected FFARACS and in 1970 promoted to Senior Lecturer.

It soon became apparent that Mack was not one to sit on his hands. In 1972 with the proposed introduction of the cardiac surgery unit for the South Island, he contributed along with Dr Trevor Dobinson and Professor Pat Molloy to setting up the cardiac theatre and post-operative cardiac care unit. His analytical mind and innovative approach resulted in changes from traditional techniques to the eventual avoidance of nitrous oxide, delivery of volatile anaesthesia supplements in very low flow systems for both economy and pollution reduction, then wholly intravenous anaesthesia techniques, on all of which he published widely. Simultaneously he championed the undesirability of operating theatre pollution and contributed to establishing a passive scavenging system in the Dunedin operating theatres early 1973–74.

Mack’s regular attendance at New Zealand and overseas anaesthetic meetings revealed his popularity as a speaker and appreciation of his innovative and discerning mind. Audiences could always guarantee to be educated, and entertained through a repertoire of humorous anecdotes. He was the author or co-author of more than 30 papers, and wrote an excellent monograph on Sir Robert Macintosh, “A Famous New Zealander”, the foundation Chair of Anaesthesia in the Nuffield Department of Anaesthesia, Oxford University, the first such chair in the UK. Interestingly Sir Robert was a second cousin once removed—Mack’s great-grandmother was a sister of Sir Robert’s grandfather.

Mack was elected to New Zealand regional committee of the Faculty of Anaesthetists in the 1970s, becoming its chairman in 1978. In 1982 he was elected to the Board of Faculty and appointed its honorary librarian 1982–90, Chairman of Education Committee 1985, a primary examiner for 12 years until 1987 and occasional final examiner, before retiring from the Board of Faculty in 1990. In 2009 the New Zealand Society of Anaesthetists honoured him with life membership.

Mack had an encyclopaedic mind eminently suited to crosswords. While travelling to College activities from Dunedin he did the Daily Telegraph puzzle on the 45-minute flight to Christchurch and The Times one in three hours to Melbourne! He had a love for languages, was fluent in conversational French and had a good working knowledge and understanding of Russian, Italian, German and Mandarin.

Outside of medicine his life was more than full with a growing family of four sons and their demands. However, that didn’t stop him from becoming a competent sailor and crewing a colleague’s Cavalier class 32 yacht on which he was able to entertain department members from time to time. Likewise he held a private pilot licence, became a medical examiner for certification of pilots and a life member of Otago Aero Club. As part of a syndicate owning a Piper Cherokee plane he frequently entertained and sometimes unnerved fellow anaesthetists and friends who flew with him. Mack’s first wife Janet died suddenly in 1978, and he married Lyn in 1981. As a keen tramper enjoying outdoor life he explored much of Otago’s scenery, and even at 80 tramped with family. As a qualified scuba-diver he managed some diving at Port Douglas and Tahiti on his travels.

On retiring from his Dunedin Hospital position in 1992 he took up full-time private practice at the Mercy Hospital where previously he had been in part-time practice for some years. After final retirement from anaesthetic practice in 2007 he continued working as a locum medical officer in provincial hospitals Gore, Balclutha and Clyde. Once completely retired there was plenty to keep him occupied, for example volunteer and active member of Dunedin gasworks museum and the Taieri Gorge Railway. Mack and Lyn travelled extensively throughout Europe and Asia, sailed with colleagues in the Mediterranean, Greek islands and several sailing visits to Tahiti.

Mack Holmes will be remembered by his colleagues as a talented dedicated anaesthetist who took a strong interest in teaching and mentoring registrars for their future roles. He died peacefully in Dunedin Hospital on 26 March 2020 after a brief illness, although he had by then been on peritoneal dialysis for some 18 months. He will be sadly missed by friends, colleagues and family alike. He is survived by his wife Lyn, four sons, a stepdaughter and six grandchildren.

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Obituary compiled by Drs Jim Clayton, David Jones and Prof Barry Baker.

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

Contact diana@nzma.org.nz
for the PDF of this article

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