Veteran gynaecologist who separated Siamese twins in 1961 in Singapore dies

SINGAPORE : Renowned veteran gynaecologist Prof Yvonne Marjorie Salmon, who served 44 years at the old Kandang Kerbau Hospital and was involved in Singapore’s first surgery to separate Siamese twins in 1961 – died on Oct 28.

She was 94 years old.

The longest-serving doctor at Kandang Kerbau Hospital, now KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), Dr Salmon was the most senior obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) specialist in the civil service by the time she retired in 1996.

Dr Yvonne Marjorie Salmon was the longest-serving doctor at Kandang Kerbau Hospital, now KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.PHOTO: ST

She was also the first woman to lead the hospital’s O&G department in 1975.

In 1961, Dr Salmon was one of two doctors who successfully separated a pair of Siamese twins in Singapore. But one of the twins died hours after the surgery due to infection.

In 2003, Dr Salmon had a reunion with the surviving twin, Ms Karen Yong.

In a tribute on Facebook last Friday (Oct 30), KKH said Dr Salmon was widely respected and very well-loved by her friends, colleagues, students and patients.

“We will cherish the wonderful memories we have of her as we pay tribute to the remarkable person that she was. She will be remembered as a caring friend, visionary leader, an extraordinary mentor and an outstanding clinician,” KKH added in the post.

Having delivered many baby boomers, Dr Salmon, who never married, told The Straits Times in 2003 that she had vivid memories of the times when more than 100 babies were born every day in 1966.

“We put two to three beds together and made the mothers lie on them cross-wise – a record for neighbourliness,” she told ST then.

According to the book The History Of Obstetrics And Gynaecology in Singapore, Dr Salmon became a clinical professor at the University of Singapore in 1977, now the National University of Singapore.

Professor Kelvin Tan, the head of KKH’s perinatal audit and epidemiology unit, said he was taught by Dr Salmon when he was a medical student, and has fond memories of her.

“She was totally dedicated to her work and she had inspired generations of young doctors, many of whom took up O&G and became head of units and departments.

“She was always cheerful and kind… She was strong in faith, and when I visited her after her retirement, she would always greet me ‘Kelvin’, with a bright smile and sparkle,” added Prof Tan.

Dr Yvonne Marjorie Salmon (centre) with nurses who were born in Kandang Kerbau Hospital, in 2003. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Eurasian Association’s second vice-president, Mrs Yvonne Pereira, said Dr Salmon delivered her second child in 1982, and at that time, the renowned gynaecologist was “a sought-after and household name”.

“I personally remember her being friendly, kind, caring and most importantly, making me feel comfortable throughout my pregnancy. She has paved the way and is a role model for the many Eurasians practising medicine today,” added Mrs Pereira.

Dr Salmon’s father, the late Dr S. R. Salmon, was also a pioneer in Singapore’s O&G scene. He ran the Salmon Maternity Home at 110 Prinsep Street from 1950 until it ceased operations in the 1980s.

The Salmon Maternity Home at 110 Prinsep Street ceased operations in the 1980s. PHOTO: ST FILE

Dr Salmon’s cremation service at Mandai Crematorium was held on Friday, and a memorial service at 110 Prinsep Street on Monday (Nov 2).

By : Shabana Begum – THE STRAITS TIMES

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s