Dr Chava Eve Rotem, 1928–2020

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 62, No. 9, November 2020, Pages 348-349 Obituaries

Dr Chava Eve Rotem

We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Dr Chava Eve Rotem, at age 92, on 15 August 2020. Eve was born in Berlin, Germany, on 15 January 1928, and at age 5 left Germany with her parents to begin a new life in Palestine (Israel). Eve would begin charting her own course in life, unaware of being a pioneer and role model for many women to follow.

Eve enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Geneva, Switzerland (1946), learning French in order to pass her first exams. In 1947, she returned to Switzerland after marrying in Palestine to continue her medical studies in Lausanne. In May 1948, when Palestine gained its independence to become the State of Israel, she and her husband, Zeev, were asked to volunteer with the Haganah (the Jewish Defence Organization) assisting refugee survivors of the Nazi camps who were being transported from southern France to Israel. Despite limited medical training, Eve was assigned as the ship’s “doctor.”

Back in Israel, Eve was assigned to the Medical Service, first practising minor surgery and emergency medicine then joining with other students in opening the Faculty of Medicine in Jerusalem. She returned to Switzerland in 1949 to complete her medical studies, then later she and Zeev immigrated to England with their first daughter (born 1953), to continue their respective careers. Eve secured a position at the Leicester Chest and Isolation Unit as a house surgeon heading two wards for tuberculosis patients. It was in Leicester that a colleague persuaded Eve to specialize in cardiology. She participated in the first cardiac catheterizations at the hospital in 1957. A year later, Eve qualified as a consultant in the Royal College of Physicians (Edinburgh and London). In 1959, continuing as senior registrar, Eve gave birth to her second daughter. In 1960, she returned to Israel, where Zeev was working, to work herself at the Medical Missionary Hospital in Nazareth. However, the allure of pursuing their professions further took the family to the United States in 1964, where Eve accepted a research position in surgery at Stanford University, California. A year later, it was her husband’s pursuit of professional growth that moved the family once again, this time to Canada. Zeev became a professor at UBC while Eve accepted a position at St. Paul’s Hospital in cardiology. At St Paul’s she participated in planning and developing the first intensive care unit; however, it was a position at Shaughnessy Hospital in cardiac catheterization, coupled with the completion of her FRCP in 1968, that marked her final move. Eve remained at Shaughnessy until its closure in 1992. In 1974 she had opened her own cardiology practice, joined later by her colleagues, Dr K. Booromand and Dr B. BarShlomo, and developed lifelong friendships. A well-respected clinical professor at UBC, publishing numerous journal articles throughout her career, Eve displayed a passion for her profession, and her willingness to share her professional journey made her an active lecturer and teacher, colleague, and friend, not soon forgotten.

Eve’s interests and energy were not limited to medicine; her pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the world guided her additional pursuits. Archaeology was her second passion, and learning Spanish (her fifth language) enhanced her studies. If there was spare time it was spent reading or in the outdoors: cross-country skiing, hiking (the Annapurna circuit at age 60), trekking in Patagonia, and exploring multiple regions of South America to name a few. But it was not only her energy, drive, and achievements that made her who she was, it was her integrity and honesty, passion, dedication, and work ethic that formed the hallmarks of her character as well as the cornerstones of her career. Her compassion, openness, and willingness to help anyone in need, her friendship, zest, and unwavering curiosity for life, and her love of animals and their love for her are the things everyone will remember.

Predeceased by her husband in 1973, Eve was a loving and caring single mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and mother-in-law. She is survived by her two daughters and son-in-law, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. She was loved and respected by everyone who came into her life. A pioneer to the end, she will be missed immensely.
—Dina Collins

Dina Collins. Dr Chava Eve Rotem, 1928–2020. BCMJ, Vol. 62, No. 9, November, 2020, Page(s) 348-349 - Obituaries.

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