It was a rude shock to receive the news of the demise of Prof William Fredrick James Harkness. William was an unassuming, easy-going, friendly and congenial gentleman. My first contact with him was at a British Association of Paediatrics Surgeons’ meeting in Liverpool in 2018. He wore a disarming smile despite his towering figure and engaged in an animated conversation about his nascent project of bringing all surgeons working on children together under a single umbrella for intellectual intercourse of ideas – the Intersurgeon project. It is gratifying that the project took off and it well established before his transition.
This project brought us together on two other occasions on the African continent – first, in Addis Ababa during the 12th biennial conference of the Pan African Paediatric Surgery Association (PAPSA) where he sensitized African paediatric surgeons to the Intersurgeon project and engaged in several sessions on how to improve access to paediatric surgery by children on the African continent. The second occasion was in Johannesburg, South Africa in January 2020 during the Global Initiative for Children’s Surgery (GICS) meeting where his palpable passion for bringing surgeons and other specialists working on children together was easily perceptible to all.
William will be missed for his candour, congeniality and professionalism. All members of PAPSA will miss him for the short but impactful interactions we had while he was with us.
We wish him eternal blissful rest
Prof Adesoji Ademuyiwa