Death of Andrew Foote, Retired Consultant Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary

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26 May 2020

We are saddened to hear of the death of Andrew Veitch Foote, retired consultant cardiothoracic surgeon and RCSEd Fellow, who passed away due to COVID-19 on the 9th May 2020.

He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 1951.  After a period of national service in the Royal Air Force, he entered surgical training in Yorkshire thereafter moving to Edinburgh as registrar in cardiothoracic surgery to Andrew Logan.  He then undertook research, - initially in the cardiac surgery department UCLA , Los Angeles, and subsequently under the watchful gaze of Sir John Bruce at the Gastrointestinal Unit, Western General Hospital.  Although he had an early interest in cardiothoracic surgery, he was appointed in 1963 as senior registrar / Lecturer in General Surgery to the Department of Surgery, Medical School, University of Aberdeen, led by Professor George Smith where he thereafter became senior lecturer and consultant.  He published his ChM thesis on “The Use of ACD Blood in Heart Surgery” which was accepted with commendation from Edinburgh University in 1965.

Andrew was a popular teacher and a “true” general surgeon and in 1972 he was able to follow his original interest and sub-specialise in cardiothoracic surgery. After further training in Toronto, and at the Cleveland Clinic, he returned to the UK. He undertook an attachment with Sir Magdi Yacoub in the Harefield Hospital in 1974, and thereafter initiated the era of open-heart surgery at Aberdeen Royal infirmary.  He was joined by his colleague John Cockburn in 1978 and both set up a campaign to establish a fully funded comprehensive cardiac surgical unit and success was achieved in 1988.  With increasing workload, Robert Jeffrey was appointed as a third surgeon a year later.

During the campaign, whilst the unit often faced political and economic pressures of viability in relation to the caseload volume with just two surgeons, Andrew’s fierce commitment and dedication to his patients and the cardiac services in the north-east of Scotland saw the unit ultimately flourish and become an integral part of the cardiothoracic scene in Scotland.

Andrew had married Patricia in Germany in 1954 while serving in the forces.  Following her death, Andrew married Marlena and after his retirement in 1992, they both subsequently relocated from their home in Milltimber near Aberdeen to their new home in Marlena’s home country of Cape Town in South Africa.

Andrew had many interests, but he was an accomplished golfer and member of the Deeside Golf Club, woodcarver and a competitive bridge player as well as a doughty opponent at the snooker table.

He died in Cape Town on May 9th, 2020 from Covid- 19 and is survived by his wife, sister and daughter.

George G Youngson, Emeritus Professor of Paediatric Surgery, Aberdeen

J Nelson Norman, Emeritus Professor of Surgery, Aberdeen

We thank Andrew for his outstanding work in cardiothoracic surgery and dedication to his patients throughout his career. Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with his colleagues, friends, and family at this difficult time.

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