Halsey McShine (1912-2006)

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Louis Anselm McShine was born on August 24th 1912 in Port of Spain. He attended Tranquillity Boys’ Primary School and secured first place in the 1924 Government Exhibition Examination to gain entrance to Queen’s Royal College. He obtained the Jerningham Gold Medal and an Island Scholarship in 1932.

He studied medicine at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London and graduated with the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery and Membership of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1939. He interned in England and Wales and obtained the Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians in 1940.

In 1947, he gained the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons from Edinburgh University, Scotland and was awarded the Fellowship of the American College of Surgeons in 1963.

McShine’s most celebrated accomplishment was the West Indies’ first open-heart operation using hypothermia on May 22nd 1968 at the San Fernando General Hospital. His patient was a six-year-old boy with a defective heart valve. Open-heart surgery was at that time, a relatively new procedure even to the developed world. It became a more regular surgical procedure locally with the use of the heart and lung machine and modern equipment some 25 years later.

He was the personal physician of his former classmate and friend, the Hon. Dr. Eric Williams, the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. He also was an adviser to the national Olympic team in 1968 and 1972. Additionally, he served on the Task Force that developed the Mount Hope Medical Sciences Complex and was past President of the Trinidad Medical Association and the Chest and Heart Association of Trinidad and Tobago. After a long and illustrious career spanning some 50 years, Dr. McShine retired in 1992.

For his outstanding contribution in the field of medicine, he was made a Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth (1962) and was awarded the Chaconia Medal (Gold) by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago (1969).

He passed away in 2006.