Papworth Heroes

Christopher Parish

Cardiothoracic Surgeon
The first cardiothoracic surgeon at Papworth Hospital.
Mr Christopher Parish was appointed as cardiothoracic surgeon at Papworth Hospital in 1952.

Prior to this he had served as a Major in the Second World War, with 8th Army in the desert, in Salerno and Anzio where he performed life-saving surgery.

On one occasion, faced with the dilemma of saving a patient's life, and with no relatives or next-of-kin to consent, he decided to perform life-saving heart surgery, although at the time the notion was highly controversial amongst his clinical colleagues. The patient survived and it was this decisive wartime experience which proved to him that heart surgery could be done.

When Mr Parish arrived at Papworth Hospital it was limited in terms of its surgical operations. He had the vision to establish cardiothoracic surgery at Papworth and was given the opportunity to develop the hospital from a small tuberculosis sanatorium by expanding its staffing to include clinicians such as radiologists and physicians.

Mr Parish was able to convince the Regional Health Authority that cardiac surgery staffing was required and subsequently Dr Fleming was appointed and the Cardiac Medical Unit was established.