Dr Arnold Smith Fellowship

Dr Arnold Smith was a pioneer in the treatment of children with liver disease in Australia.

He was known and loved by many as a consummate paediatrician, gastroenterologist and Head of Hepatology (liver disease) at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne.

He was instrumental, along with colleagues at the Austin Hospital, in establishing liver transplantation for children in Melbourne. He cared for many children with life-threatening liver disease for whom, without liver transplantation, death was inevitable.

His care and compassion for his patients and their families was extraordinary and enduring.

The Arnold Smith Fellowship was established to continue Dr Smith’s dedicated work to support training in the care of liver transplant patients.

To maintain these high standards and improve the care of children with liver disease, we need to continue our research into causes and treatments of liver disease such as biliary atresia, autoimmune hepatitis, PSC, metabolic liver disease and treatments including transplantation.

The hospital’s transplant unit is known internationally for its strong research output. In order to continue the current high standard of care in Australia, we are offering a period of research training to doctors who have already completed paediatrics and are undergoing gastroenterology training. The trainee will be expected to undertake research into liver disease and publish and present their findings, so that other children around the world can also benefit from their work. By offering this training at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, we are continuing the legacy of Dr Arnold Smith.

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About Dr Arnold Smith

A learned and compassionate Paediatrician and Gastroenterologist

Before the advent of liver transplantation, many children died from liver disease and much of their care was supportive and palliative. Dr Smith set about establishing a paediatric liver transplant service in Melbourne, a complex task involving government and hospital approvals, funding, assembling of a qualified team, and developing a protocol. He was successful, and in 1988 a combined team from Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), Melbourne and the Austin Hospital was assembled.

Since 1988, the liver transplant unit at the RCH has been performing liver transplants for children with severe liver disease. This procedure has now become routine, with 10 to 15 children receiving transplants each year. The unit’s survival figures from this complex procedure are world class, transforming the lives of children and families who are affected by these life-threatening conditions.

Dr Smith was always the first to acknowledge the importance of teamwork. He applauded the superb contributions of the many people involved from many disciplines and he harnessed the wide range of expertise available at the hospital. He became an advocate for each of his patients, not only caring for them, but also their families. He was never too busy to explain a complex procedure, or to provide support, hope and comfort.

His interests and expertise went well beyond liver disease. He took a special interest in the gastroenterological care of children with dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, a serious disfiguring skin and mucosal disease, and he looked after many of them well into their adult lives.

While never seeking the limelight himself, he received a number of prestigious awards including the RCH Chairman’s Medal in 2001 and the inaugural Elizabeth Turner Medal in 2002.

Dr Smith loved and respected all people, especially children. He had a staunch faith in humanity and a unique sense of fairness, unbounded by class, culture or religion. His colleagues, too, were the beneficiaries of his friendship and care – a quiet word of support here, help and encouragement there, constructive criticism when needed; without fuss and always with sincerity. He was an outstanding clinician, teacher, mentor, colleague, supporter, critic, adviser and friend to many.

It is fitting that a Fellowship has been established in Dr Smith’s name to support training in the care of liver transplant patients.

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