On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.99 n.2 Cape Town Feb. 2009
Gerald Lapinsky (1928 - 2008)
My father, Gerald Lapinsky, was born in Bloemfontein in 1928 and completed high school at Grey College, going on to study medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand. He graduated in 1950, always claiming this to have been the greatest Wits graduating class ever, with such notable names as Philip Tobias, Sydney Brenner and Priscilla Kincaid-Smith. He worked as a general practitioner in Bloemfontein, before specialising in internal medicine and then cardiology. During the 1960s, after a brief stint in Cape Town with Velva Shrire and Chris Barnard, he headed the new Cardiac Unit at Wentworth Hospital in Durban. Then followed a 25-year career in private cardiology practice at St Augustine's Hospital in Durban, with a transition to non-invasive cardiology, embracing the new technology of echocardiography. I recall a long summer holiday spent in a darkened room with a chest sticky with gel as he honed his skills with his new machine.
He was a life-long learner and passionate teacher, teaching cardiology at King Edward Hospital in Durban, where he was known for his oral simulation of heart sounds and murmurs. His enthusiasm and love of the profession encouraged two of his children to follow him into medical careers. When he finally retired from his cardiology practice he took on a new challenge of insurance medicine. As with cardiology, this became his passion and he developed considerable expertise. Into his 70s he took an interest in computing technology and began using the Internet both to keep in contact with his children in North America (by e-mail and Skype) and to keep abreast of the medical literature. He combined these recent interests and was actively performing Internet-based insurance medicals until his sudden death from an intracerebral haemorrhage on 9 December 2008.
Stephen E Lapinsky
Mount Sinai Hospital