Clwyd Branch Committee Profile – Christine Evans

I was a consultant transplant surgeon in Liverpool when at Easter 1981 I decided to walk Offa’s Dyke starting at Prestatyn.

On the third day we were climbing Moel y Plas to the right the Dyffryn Clwyd, to the left down to Llanarmon yn Ial. I thought what a beautiful place to live. I thereupon bought a cottage 50 yards from the shop, 100yds to the Raven pub. Never regretted it.

Early years. I was born in 1943, my mother a teacher, my father a clergyman and classical scholar in Hellifield west Yorkshire.

After the war my mother who was a very independent woman got fed up of being a vicar’s wife so with Dad’s blessing she went back to teaching. First to Carlisle where I nearly died of pneumonia, they even prayed for me in Carlisle cathedral! Mum then became headmistress of a school in Wolverhampton, my sister 4 years older than me to school in Cumberland, Dad in the vicarage and me in a boarding school  in Shropshire aged 5 years. Female teachers were not meant to be married then. Despite being so young I coped. My school was the model of St Trinians as we played lacrosse and our headmistress rode a tricycle. Ronald Searle came to visit

There is photo of me with him with a hole in the sole of my shoe to my mother’s horror. When I was 9 the family monies ran out. I so I took the 11plus, but the head mistress decided to pay my fees till I was 17 as I would be a credit to the school. It was a happy childhood descending on the vicarage in the holidays listening to the wireless, reading, singing, walking, cycling, playing the piano. Dad would read to me Dorothy L Sayers and Margery Allingham, he also wrote and spoke to me in Latin.

Holidays were mainly in the Lake District as money was short.

After reading a book about Albert Schweitzer  I decided I wanted to do medicine but there was no science at school  but Ma, ever resourceful ( there were no UCAS) found I could get into a Scottish university with Latin and/or Maths. I applied to Edinburgh, I said in my application that I wanted a good job in case I didn’t get married. I got in and arrived aged 17 years and 4 months.

I struggled with physics in the first year got 12 1/2 per cent but passed the re-sits. As I was blessed with a good memory I managed in the rest of my training to pass exams although I didn’t work that hard. I played hard at lacrosse, also for Scotland, rowed, played basketball, learnt to drink and smoke and made lifelong friends. I decided to be a surgeon as things happen in surgery.

I did house jobs in Scarborough, Ma and Pa retired there, and Edinburgh and at 25 I sat / got primary FRCS and decided to go to Africa, Botswana as a medical officer in Lobatse and Gaborone.

I fell in love with Africa and an African (Sekgoma Khama, cousin to the president) more of him later.

After 2 years I was summoned back to continue my training by my previous boss, Alan Pollock, so returned as surgical registrar in Scarborough then Nottingham. By then I had my full FRCS and was Miss Evans.

Prof Hardcastle said I had to be better than the boys if I wanted to be a surgeon so he offered me a lecturer job in the Department of Surgery. There I did a research job for 2 years in Transplant Immunology under Roger Blamey as well as doing clinical transplant work. I did my first kidney transplant February 4th 1974. The results then were not good about 55% graft survival as anti-rejection therapy was in its infancy.

I became Senior Registrar in urology and then had my heart broken, by the only man who has ever ditched me. Graeme, so I disappeared off to Flinders Medical Centre Adelaide as a lecturer in Urology also doing transplants. Great place, good wine, lousy beer, the men were 15 years out of date, didn’t  like their Sheila’s drinking in pubs. My 2 years there made me realise I didn’t want to live there, although a great place to live.

I returned to UK as a Consultant Transplant Surgeon and Urologist in 1979 to Liverpool.

During this time, with Robert Sells, the results improved we were part of the multicentre European  Cyclosporin trial which transformed the results and allowed liver and heart lung transplants to be successful too. I was also interested in pregnancy after transplant, I had a good number of stable renal patients which went on to have successful pregnancies. Also, in impotence in renal failure which was common although it improves after a successful transplant.

At 39 I decided I was unlikely to get married and wished to have a child, I chose a non-medic, non-Liverpudlian as the father and at 40 had Ruth my daughter.

Whilst in Liverpool I ran the 10th British Transplant Games in Merseyside in 1987 at Bebington Oval and the Adelphi, we had 1000 transplant patients. That’s Life team became very involved.

Also, I did my first Male to Female gender reassignment on 1984 on the NHS. Liverpool at that time was not a happy place to live. The two Toxteth riots had not helped and my daughter’s elderly, resident nanny was not happy living there so when Ruth was 4, I moved back to North Wales to Glan Clwyd. There I started a new Urology Department, doing routine prostates, bladder tumours but specialising in reconstructive  surgery including impotence surgery and continued the gender surgery. Also I did post transplant clinics for North Wales.

I ran another Transplant Games 20th in 1997 also in Bebington. We were evacuated from the Adelphi because of a bomb scare for 3 hours, 100s of us standing in the street outside.

In 1997 the urology unit won Urology department of the year award and I won Hospital doctor of the year.

I was by this time on the Council of RCSEd and on BAUS council and became Chairman of UROLINK, which promotes training in developing countries mainly in Africa.

In 2000 I went to 7 African countries to take equipment and teach, mainly in Zambia Zimbabwe and Malawi. At that time they were developing a College without walls and as an examiner from the Edinburgh college I joined up with Chris Lavy orthopod from Malawi to set up their exams. The MCOSECSA was run by us in Kampala in 2003, 8 east African countries involved with about 20 surgical candidates. The Fellowship started in 2008, run by the local surgeons themselves.

I was from 1994 to 2003 again with Sekgoma Khama in between his 2nd and 3rd marriage, he was a great man he was at the time Botswana’s ambassador to the Nordic countries. He asked me to marry him in 2003, I said he was 40 years too late!!!!

In 2002, I was invited pre 2nd Gulf war to go to Iraqi Kurdistan, to also teach and I took a huge amount of equipment.

I was by myself and crossed the River Tigris in a small boat with an outboard motor wondering what the hell I was doing there!!!

I was right royally welcomed to Duhok, Erbil and Sulamania. Their Urology was third world at the time. I have been back 12 times, not in 2003 obviously or 2005 after I had a stroke. They have come on leaps and bounds nearly 1st world now. I was last  there in 2018.

I continued to visit Africa for the COSECSA  exams till 2019 by which time I retired from examining .

Back in Wales I was a County Councilor from 2008 to 2012. The pub and the shop were rescued in Llanarmon yn Ial, I have been on the AONB committee since 2008 and CPRW since 2009 enjoying both very much.

I am now no longer very mobile but enjoy singing (choral music), going to opera.

My daughter who started off as a geologist is now a very fine musician with The National Youth Choirs of Great Britain.

The best thing I did was to have Ruth, the 2nd buy a cottage in North Wales, all turned out well.

Christine Evans with regards.