Allastair Karmody (29th Mar 1937 - 16 Jun 1986)

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Allastair Michael Karmody was born in Trinidad on March 29th 1937. He attended Coffee Street E.C. Primary School and St. Mary’s College. At St. Mary’s he participated in extra-curricular activities and played cricket. He was an avid reader and he also maintained an interest in architecture. He won the Jerningham Gold Medal and the Science Island Scholarship in 1955. He studied medicine at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland and Oxford University, England. His master’s degree in surgery researched the blood clotting mechanism.

Karmody held Fellowships of the Royal College of Surgeons in England and Scotland. In 1970 he joined the staff of Albany Veterans Administration Hospital, New York and later the faculty of Albany Medical College where he and his surgical team developed a reputation for excellence in vascular surgery.

Karmody and Dr. Robert Leather refined the “in-situ saphenous vein bypass.” First attempted in Norway for the treatment of blocked arteries in the lower limbs, the procedure bypassed the flow of blood into the vein thereby eliminating the need for artificial grafts. The improved procedure was given the name the “Albany operation” and is now the standard technique. At Albany, Dr. Karmody was also a key figure in pioneering limb re-attachment surgery and the institution’s kidney transplant programme for which he became internationally recognised.

He was elected Professor of Surgery in 1980 and mentored surgeons from the United Kingdom, the Caribbean and other countries. He authored over 150 publications and held memberships in professional bodies including the American Surgical Association, the Society of Vascular Surgery, the International Cardiovascular Society, and the New York Academy of Science.

Karmody died at the relatively young age of 49 in 1986. The Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery administers the “Allastair Karmody Essay” award for medical students and the Karmody Vascular Laboratory, Albany is named in his honour. He will long be remembered as a bright shining light in the annals of vascular surgery.