Veteran gynaecologist, Dr Yvonne Salmon
Renowned KKH veteran gynaecologist, Dr Yvonne Marjorie Salmon, who was involved in Singapore's first surgery to separate Siamese twins in 1961 – passed away on 28 October 2020 at the age of 94.
Serving for 44 years, the late Dr Yvonne Salmon was the first female head of the department of obstetrics and gynaecology (O&G) at Kandang Kerbau Hospital, now KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH). At the time of her retirement in 1996, she held the distinction of being the longest-serving doctor at KKH, and the most senior O&G specialist in civil service.
“We are saddened by the passing of our veteran doctor, Prof Yvonne Marjorie Salmon. Prof Salmon dedicated 44 years to KKH, before retiring in 1996. She was widely respected and very well-loved by her friends, colleagues, students and patients,” shares Associate Professor Tan Hak Koon, Chairman, Division of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KKH.
“We will cherish the wonderful memories we have of her as we pay tribute to the remarkable person that she was. She will be remembered as a caring friend, visionary leader, an extraordinary mentor and an outstanding clinician.”
A life of dedication to obstetrics and gynaecology
Dr Salmon’s close and abiding relationship with KKH began in 1953 when she joined Kandang Kerbau Hospital as a Medical Officer with the “B” unit. From 1975 to 1986, Dr Salmon served as Head and Senior Consultant of “B” unit, KKH. She was further deputised as Medical Superintendent, KKH, stepping in when the superintendent was away on leave.
Dr Salmon continued to serve as Advisor and Senior Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynaecology “B” unit (1986 – 1990) and subsequently as Visiting Consultant with the Department of Reproductive Medicine (1990 – 1996).
A heart for training medical professionals
With a deep dedication to patients and heart for medical education, Dr Salmon trained generations of medical doctors through the decades. She contributed to shaping training programmes for O&G as a Member of the School of Postgraduate Medicine and Postgraduate Medical Training, and member of the Reference Committee of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecology, London (1975 – 1976, 1978 – 1987).
Dr Salmon also took an active role in continuing medical education as Clinical Professor, University of Singapore, and served as Chairman of the Chapter of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore from 1971 to 1972.
“I have fond memories of the late Professor Yvonne Salmon and will miss her dearly,” shares Professor Kelvin Tan Kok Hian, Head and Senior Consultant, Perinatal Audit and Epidemiology Unit, KKH, who was taught by Dr Salmon as a medical student.
“KKH was Professor Salmon's second home for 44 years since 1953. She was completely dedicated to her work and inspired generations of young doctors, many of whom took up O&G and became heads of units and departments. She was always cheerful and kind, and even after her retirement, she was very passionate about O&G and was proud of the O&G achievements in Singapore. She was strong in faith, and when I visited her after her retirement, she would always greet me, ‘Kelvin’, with a bright smile and sparkle.”
A passion for advancing women’s health
Dr Salmon took an active interest in research and was the author or co-author of more than 30 articles published in different journals. An advocate for advancement in women’s health, she encouraged all her juniors to participate in research projects.
In recognition of her contributions to science and to the promotion of women’s health, Dr Salmon received the Public Administration Medal (Gold) in 1981 and the Special Women’s Award at the FIGO XV World Congress of Gynaecology & Obstetrics in 1997 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Dr Yvonne Salmon (centre) with colleagues in the Ward 34 corridor at Kandang Kerbau Hospital, 1985.
Dr Yvonne Salmon with fellow O&G Pioneers at Kandang Kerbau Hospital, 2002.
Dr Yvonne Salmon and KKH nursing officers in KKH, early 1990s.
Photos credit: Tan Kok Hian, Tay Eng Hseon. The History of Obstetrics & Gynaecology in Singapore, 2003.
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