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People > Obituaries > Dr Mitchell Notaras 1933 – 2011

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submitted by Kytherian Biographies Project on 24.09.2011

Dr Mitchell Notaras 1933 – 2011

Dr Mitchell Notaras      1933 – 2011 - Mitchell Notaras on Kythera

*Variations of this Obituary have appeared in:

The Kytherian, Newsletter of the Kytherian Association of Australia, September 2011
The Grafton Examiner, August 6th, 2011
The (Brisbane) Courier Mail, Friday October 14, 2011, page 105
The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday October 21st, 2011, page 14
Eulogy by his twin brother, Angelo

MB BS, BSc, MD, MS, MSc, BA, MRACP, FRACS, FRCS, FRCS (Ed), FACS

A Medical Man Abroad Who Never Forgot Where He Came From


Dr Mitchell Notaras was born on 26th March in 1933 to Greek immigrant parents Antonius (Tony) Notaras and Ianthe (nee, Megalokonomos), in Grafton, where he was raised. Marble Bar Cafe, Grafton in 1916. (Tony is pictured at the front of the cafe as a nineteen year old).
Interior of the Marble Bar Cafe in its heyday
Interior of the Marble Bar Cafe in its heyday 2
Tony, John & Theo Notaras, Greek Parade Lismore 1940's

His secondary education commenced at Grafton High School and concluded at Newington College, Sydney. He entered Sydney University Medical School at age 16 as a recipient of a Commonwealth Government Scholarship. As a university student he appreciated the medical and surgical experience gained at the Grafton Base Hospital with doctors Mulhearn, Harris and Holland.

Dr Notaras undertook his clinical undergraduate studies at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, where he returned after graduation in the posts of Junior and Senior Medical Officer. To gain experience abroad, he travelled to England working as a ship’s surgeon on a cargo boat.

Dr Notaras continued his studies while working at the Hamersmith Hospital. He obtained Fellowships of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and England. He also held the posts of Senior Registrar and Medical Research Council Fellow at St Marks Hospital for Colorectal Diseases, London; and Senior Registrar in Surgery, University College Hospital, London.

Dr Notaras became a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He held a number of consultant posts including Senior Lecturer and Hon. Consultant Surgeon, at University College Hospital, London; and was a Consultant Surgeon to the Italian Hospital London, St Lukes Hospital for the Clergy, and Barnet and Edgeware General Hospitals. He was a recognized teacher in surgery at the University of London, and visited and lectured in 28 countries.

An early area of specialisation for Dr Notaras was colorectal surgery, to which he introduced techniques which became established procedures. He was also a pioneer in the use of mesh repair of hernias, which only require a local anaesthetic and allows hernia sufferers to be in and out of hospital on the same day. This was a major step forward in what was previously a complex and invasive surgical procedure. He also introduced Lateral Subcutaneous internal Anal Spincterotomy for anal fissure, now an established procedure.

Visiting academic posts included Professor in Surgery, at the University of Curatiba, Brazil, the University of Bergen, Norway, and the University of Khartoum, Sudan.

Dr Notaras published in various surgical journals, and wrote chapters for a number of surgical textbooks, including Maingot’s Textbook of Abdominal Surgery, Robb and Smith’s Textbook of Operative Surgery, Nyhus’s Textbook of Operative Surgery, Nyhus’s Textbook of Abdominal Surgery (Spanish), and Surgical Clinics of North America. He was a member of the Editorial Board of two journals, ColoProctology, and Hernia.

Dr Notaras established a company, Abgene (later taken over by Apogent Corporation, USA). Abgene became a leader in Europe, specialising in the manufacture of molecular biological reagents, special plastic consumables and instrumentation for life sciences. It also became involved in research, both inhouse and through collaborations with universities and industrial partners, particularly in gene and DNA technology.

Dr Notaras never forgot his Australian citizenship and was grateful to the Australian people for his university education. As a form of appreciation, he funded a million dollar scholarship in perpetuity in colorectal surgery, the Mitchell J Notaras Fellowship in Colorectal Surgery.pdf. The Fellowship was inaugurated at a ceremony held at Sydney University in 2004. The Fellowship is both a generous gift to further expertise in this medical area within Australia, and a benefit to the community at large. It provides an opportunity for aspiring young Australian surgeons to spend three years involved in colorectal clinical work at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, colorectal research, and a period of one year abroad at a centre of excellence. See, the Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand, Triennial Report. TriennialReport09.pdf

When he retired Dr Notaras restored his grandfather’s house on the island of Kythera, Greece. He also became involved with the Kytherian community, including the purchase of equipment needed by the local hospital. He was a key member of the Kytherian Hospital Appeal Committee

Dr Notaras regularly travelled to Australia including Grafton where he, along with his brothers Angelo and John, and cousin Spiro, restored the heritage listed Saraton theatre as he “wanted the Clarence Valley to have the best”. The theatre was originally built by his father and uncle in 1926. School children line up for the opening of the Saraton Theatre in 1926. See the comprehensive magazine liftout about the opening of the Saraton, 2011. Saraton_24p_Liftout_s.pdf

Dr Notaras was a prodigious reader throughout his life, and in his retirement, and a man of great knowledge. He was much loved by all those whose lives he touched. His vitality, kindness, lively intelligence and friendships with so many, will be missed.

He died in the town of Frilingianika, on the island of Kythera, Greece, on the 30th July, 2011.

He was much loved by all of those whose lives he touched. His vitality, kindness, lively intelligence and friendships with so many, will be missed.

Dr Lorna Martin McPhail, his first wife, predeceased him. Dr Notaras is survived by his three daughters from his first marriage, Fiona, Nicola and Lorna. Also by his second wife, Bente Fasmer Notaras, and their two sons Anthony and James, his six grand children, and his siblings, Angelo, Irene, John and Betty.

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