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MORRIS, Kenneth Newman (1917-2001)

MORRIS, Kenneth Newman (1917-2001)

Dr Kenneth Morris, surgeon and historian, performed the first open-heart surgery operation in Australia in 1955 and the first coronary artery graft in 1969. Kenneth Morris was born to parents Edgar Gordon Morris and Marion Brice Anderson and for a time lived in Bacchus Marsh, later attending the Werribee Higher Elementary School.

He was educated at Geelong College from 1932 to 1934, running with the Athletics Team of 1932, rowing in the 1st VIII in 1934 and as a Cadet Corps Sergeant and School Prefect in 1934. He was also a joint editor of Pegasus the School magazine and a member of Warrinn House. He studied medicine at Melbourne University from 1935 and continued rowing with the Ormond College crew. While at Ormond he demonstrated his interest in history by updating the Blue Book - the student’s history of Ormond. After graduating in 1940 he became an intern at the Royal Melbourne Hospital where he met and married, in 1941, Dr Fay Kinross with whom he later developed a formidable and talented medical team.

He enlisted in the RAN on 9 February, 1942 and was posted as a surgeon-lieutenant to HMAS Canberra. During the Battle of Savo Island in August, 1942 the Canberra was torpedoed and sunk, though Dr Morris under dangerous and difficult conditions, distinguished himself during and after the battle and was mentioned in despatches. He later served on the destroyer HMAS Nepal prior to his discharge on 30 October,1945. Following the war he continued studying towards a master of surgery and in 1948 joined the Alfred Hospital, Melbourne and in 1949, the Thoracic Surgery Unit. It was with the Alfred Hospital that Dr Morris carried out his pioneering work and with Dr Kinross developed an artificial heart-lung machine to enable surgery.

In the early 1970s Dr Morris retired from the Alfred Hospital and moved to Bass in south-east Victoria where they became particularly involved in local history and cattle breeding on their property there although Dr Morris returned again to medical practice from 1976 to 1988. During this time Dr Morris became president of the Bass Valley Historical Society and with Tom Horton published a book on one of the early pioneering families, The Andersons of Western Port and an examination of explorer, George Bass in George Bass in Westernport. After their move to Newhaven in 1980 he authored the history of Newhaven College entitled Our School by the Sea.

Sources: Obituary Herald Sun (Melb) 26 March 2001 p 81.
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