Banished to China - The Joys of Cathay

Thursday, 07 February 2013

From 1900 to 2100

Medico-Chirurgical Hall

Mr David Knight - Formerly Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, NHS Grampian


The Society met on 7th February 2013 in the Society Hall, Foresterhill

Dr Ken McHardy presided and welcomed a large turnout of members.

The President proposed that Mr Richard Carey, Chief Executive of NHS Grampian, be admitted to the Society as an honorary member, which proposal was accepted by the meeting.

The President then introduced Mr James Falconer who was raising money for a roof garden at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

He then introduced the evening’s speaker, Mr David Knight, formerly consultant orthopaedic surgeon in Elgin and Aberdeen but now working in China. His talk was entitled Banished to China – the Joys of Cathay.

Mr Knight started by showing photographs of various aspect of the People’s Republic of China which became an economic powerhouse after the death of Mao Tse-tung and in particular of the city of Chingdu, the capital of Sichuan Province where he is based.

He traced his contacts with China starting with a visit to Hong Kong in 1973 which was the prize for winning the radio team quiz Top of the Form. He showed a photograph taken then of an area covered in paddy fields and another of the same scene, now showing major urban development. When he was a senior registrar, he spent time in China, arranged by the then professor of orthopaedics, Richard Porter. At that time few joint replacements were done and fracture fixation equipment was a box of plates and screws. Since then, China has changed a lot, with the rich getting much richer but still with a lot of poverty.

He became involved with Medical Services Intervention, a Christian non profit organization, now MSI Professional Services (, founded in 1994 to promote health and education in China and it is with them that he now works in China. He said that surgeons there are good but he brings a holistic view and can improve their English (the language of academic medicine in China). Doctors are generally poorly paid and patients have to pay for their treatment, and sometimes demand their money back if treatment is not successful. Facilities even in small hospitals tend to be good with MRI and CT scanners but there is not usually imaging nor ventilation in theatres.

He discussed some myths about China, showed video clips and photographs of his life in China, talked about the various Chinese languages including Mandarin which he is learning.

There were many questions including about HIV, media censorship, persecution of Christians and academic activities.

The vote of thanks was proposed by the President.

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