Dr Arnold Smith Scholarship

The Arnold Smith Fellowship was established to support specialised research and training in the care of children with liver disease at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne liver transplant unit.

The unit is one of very few centres in Australia with training and experience in the care of children with liver disease. It is  known internationally for its strong research output, with research into causes and treatments of liver disease such as biliary atresia, autoimmune hepatitis, PSC, metabolic liver disease and treatments including transplantation.

Current recipient: Dr Prerna Diksha

Dr Prerna Diksha

Dr Prerna Diksha

Prerna is a paediatric gastroenterology and clinical nutrition fellow at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. She is very interested in research, and has a special focus on improving care of children affected by liver disorders.

The Scholarship will support her work in paediatric acute liver failure – a serious condition that can come on suddenly in healthy children. We don’t fully understand why it happens, but it’s thought to be a problem with the immune system.

Prerna’s research aims to shed light on the immune problems behind paediatric acute liver failure, pointing to better ways of diagnosing and treating the condition.



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

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

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 Scholarship has been established in Dr Smith’s name to support training in the care of children with liver disease, an area with few dedicated specialists.

You can help fund this vital project

Funds are needed to help build this Scholarship.  Donations made on the link below will go to this work.

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