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03 May 2018

Neville Maurice Newman
9 July 1923 – 27 April 2018

Neville Newman was born in Sydney on July 9, 1923, to Horace and Ella Kate (Dids) Newman and spent his school years at Scots College, Sydney, where, in addition to this academic studies, he played rugby union and rowed for the School.

In 1941, aged 17, Neville was admitted to study Medicine at the University of Sydney and resided at St Andrew’s College, where he went on to be Treasurer and President of the student body and also Senior Student in 1945. 1941 was the first year of the war-time accelerated medical course, in which the clinical years were compressed by reducing the breaks between semesters. Neville therefore graduated in 1945 with MB BS with second class Honours, after spending his clinical years at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH).

His preclinical years were punctuated by summer holidays spent in a Mills Bomb manufacturing facility or out in the country picking fruit. He also played rugby union for the University of Sydney, being awarded a Blue in 1943.

In 1946, Neville began his residency at RPAH. Then, after a short period as an assistant in general practice, he moved to a training position at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children. This was the beginning of a long career in Paediatrics.

On May 10, 1948, Neville married Peg Friend, a nurse he had met at RPAH and in 1949 they moved to London so that Neville could continue his paediatric training.  After a series of jobs in the Middlesex group of hospitals and several training courses, Neville passed the Fellowship exam of the London Royal College of Physicians in 1951. He was then able to obtain a paediatric registrar position at the Hillingdon Hospital, Uxbridge.

With one small daughter and a son on the way, Peg and Neville decided to return to Australia in October 1952, moving to Hobart in May 1953 to join the private paediatric practice of Arch and John Millar. This was a demanding job, with office consultation during the day and home visits all over Hobart and surrounds, every evening and often on unpaved suburban streets. Two more daughters were born in Hobart.

In 1962, Neville was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, where he took part in a developmental study of children from birth to five years of age, with Dr Janet Hardy. The whole family went with him from May 1962 to September 1963.

During this year in Baltimore, Neville developed his love for newborn babies.  He was able to bring back with him a specialised three-way tap which allowed efficient exchange transfusion of babies with jaundice due to Rhesus incompatibility. For these exchange transfusions, Neville perfected the cannulisation of the umbilical vein.

On his return to Hobart, Neville began to specialise in Neonatology, attending most of the caesarean sections and multiple births.

In 1964, he was appointed Senior Paediatrician at the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH), a practice which included neonatology and paediatric oncology. However, not long after this, John Millar retired. This meant that Neville was left as the sole paediatrician in Southern Tasmania until Dr Graham Bury arrived in Hobart in 1975 to set up a second paediatric practice.

In 1975, Neville was appointed as Senior Lecturer at the University of Tasmania and began his research into Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) together with Drs David Megirian and John Sherry.

In 1980, Neville retired from private practice to become the Inaugural Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the Queen Alexandra Division of the RHH, a position he held until his retirement in December 1989. During this time Neville continued his research into SIDS and in 1992 was awarded an Advance Australia Award for outstanding contribution to Medical Research into Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

In retirement, Neville continued his interest in Medicine and was made a life member of the Tasmanian Branch of the Australian Medical Association.

Neville was lovingly cared for in the later years of his life by his family and in 2015 moved into St Andrew’s Village, Hughes, ACT. He died peacefully on April 27, 2018, aged 94.

Neville was a leader and innovator in Neonatology, a researcher and a wonderful father. His service to the community was immense. He will be sadly missed.

By Jane Twin B Med Sc, MBBS, FRCPA 
(Dr Newman’s daughter)


Published: 03 May 2018