John William Callaghan was born on 12 August 1926. With ancestral roots from Cork, John or Oom John as we know him, demonstrated some of his Irish perseverance to become one of the leading ENT surgeons in South African history.

A tribute to John Callaghan

Dr John William Callaghan

Amazing that at the tender age of 90 years this man is still practicing, operating and climbing the stairs at Medforum Hospital in Pretoria every day! What an example to many of our young and especially newly qualified ENT surgeons.

After acquiring his degree as a medical doctor in 1949 at WITS he went on to practice general medicine in Elim, Limpopo. Later he moved to the Groot Marico, often mentioned in his works by the famous South African writer Herman Charles Bosman.

Back in Pretoria he joined the military and worked at 1 Military Hospital, Voortrekkerhoogte before deciding to specialize in ENT at the University of Pretoria.

After qualifying under Professor Jan Hofmeyr he took up private practice in Pretoria. Always staying up to date with new technology and being involved with academical training of ENT surgeons at the University of Pretoria he attended many workshops and congresses during the years.

Oom John beliefs that technology has made a major impact in the field of ENT. When he started his career mastoid surgery was still performed with hammers and chisels, magnifying glasses used for magnification and lasers did not exists. The operating microscope,  the laser and electric micro drill had a major impact on surgical outcomes.

During the last decades Dr John Callaghan established himself as an expert in voice and larynx disorders. He was a pioneer and one of the first ENT surgeons in South Africa to acquire a video stroboscope. This is used to video record and analyze the vocal cords.

Oom John’s philosophy for success is to enjoy what you do and to use the stairs rather than the elevator.

We as colleagues, students and patients are all grateful for what Dr (Oom) John Callaghan contributed in the field of ENT.