Sir Henry Pierre (1904-1984)

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Joseph Henry Pierre was born on October 28th 1904. He attended Queen’s Royal College and then entered St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, London to study medicine in 1925. He qualified in 1932 and was a junior medical officer at the hospital for one year before returning to Trinidad.

He served in a variety of posts in the medical service of Trinidad and returned to the UK on study leave in 1938. He became the second Trinidadian to obtain the Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1939.

On his return he worked at San Fernando General Hospital. There was no specialist surgeon on staff, so he performed many types of surgery including of the abdomen, breast and thyroid. In his career he also performed surgery of the brain, eye and ear-nose-and-throat. His surgical techniques were legendary: his incisions were delicate and accurate; difficult operations were made simple; and his techniques were considered the best teaching methods for his surgical assistants.

After his transfer to Port of Spain General Hospital, patients in San Fernando journeyed northward to be attended to by “Dr. Pierre”, for such was his reputation. For many years, he was the only surgeon operating on tuberculosis patients and he was credited for initiating lung surgery at Caura Chest Hospital, where he was appointed thoracic surgeon. He was also the surgeon of choice for operating on American servicemen at the Chaguaramas naval base, where he volunteered his services.

Sir Henry was a gentleman par excellence. He broke many social barriers on the American bases and in the oilfields, sugar estates and social clubs by his charisma and genuine nature. He was also active in the Trinidad Medical Society and the Red Cross Society, which he served as President. With his wife, he participated in the Horticultural Society’s flower shows and won several prizes. He also enjoyed photography, tennis, golf and yachting.

After retiring from the medical service in 1958, he continued an active private practice. In 1972, he eventually settled into retirement in England. In 1974, he was bestowed the Chaconia Medal (Gold) for his outstanding contribution to his homeland.

Sir Henry passed away in 1984.