Dr Phillip Godfrey Ashmore, 1926–2011

Phil Ashmore passed away peacefully on 1 September 2011 at the age of 85. Born and raised in BC, he retained a great love of the Interior, especially the Bridge River Valley and Bralorne, along with their inhabitants. 

He graduated in medicine at the University of Toronto in 1948 and, after a short spell as a country GP in Bralorne, he returned to train in surgery. There he came under the influence of Dr Bill Mustard, and this led him to develop an interest in pediatric surgery, particularly the treatment of cardiac anomalies. 

He subsequently gained an overseas fellowship in London with Sir Russell Brock in thoracic surgery and paid weekly visits to the Children’s Hospital in Great Ormond Street to be with David Waterson, who was a world pioneer in pediatric cardiac surgery. 

He returned to Vancouver and es­tablished a practice in pediatric general and cardiac surgery. In 1957, along with Dr Peter Allen, he performed the first open heart operation in Vancouver. Phil went on to promote and establish pediatric surgery as a separate specialty in Vancouver, and along with three colleagues, created first a division, then a full department. Throughout this time, he provided encouragement, stimulus, and warm friendship to these individuals, to which I can attest. 

His was a huge influence in the building of a new separate children’s hospital, and after moving to it in 1982, he concentrated solely on his cardiac work.

Allied to his professional success, Phil possessed a most engaging personality and a huge sense of humor. An accomplished musician and entertainer, he claimed, “I never saw a microphone that I didn’t like!” 

In his later years, his health began to deteriorate, but he was blessed with a very supportive family who saw that he enjoyed his regular outings with his beloved dog Kerry. 

A true pioneer, a great surgeon, and a wonderful character, he will be sorely missed, but his achievements will live on in his specialty and in children at large.
—Graham C. Fraser, MD
Vancouver

Graham C. Fraser, FRCS, FACS. Dr Phillip Godfrey Ashmore, 1926–2011. BCMJ, Vol. 54, No. 3, April, 2012, Page(s) 148 - Obituaries.



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Tracy Preece says: reply

I was born with patent Ductus Ateriosis and Pulmonary Stenosis that was repaired by Dr. Ashmore in 1968. Today I am a nurse in Calgary who works in PAC clinic (Pre-Admission) after years working for VCHA at Lions Gate Hospital. Great legacy of a man. Thank you from the bottom of my repaired heart.

Glenda Garrett says: reply

I was born with a heart defect. I was 6 years old when I lived in Nelson BC and I needed surgery or I wouldn't make it another 6 weeks. I had tetralogy of Fallot complete correction on my heart and I am 46 years old now and my heart works wonderfully, thanks to Dr Ashmore. I was told that it was an experimental surgery, well this is one experiment that should be followed for a long time to come, to save lives.
Thank you Dr Ashmore, you are my angel.
Sincerely, Glenda Garrett

Joe Renner says: reply

Dr. Ashmore repaired my aorta in 1971 and at now at 54, I'm cycling up and down mountains all the time! Last xray a few years ago the doctor marvelled at how very little scar tissue was present. That's a skilled surgeon's work. Thank you.

Dawn says: reply

I was only 2 when he operated I had a hole in my heart I met him in 1994 and he remembered was a unreal moment

Greg Wallace says: reply

I was 2 when Dr Ashmore did an ASD repair on my heart at Vancouver General. After my regular checkups to about age 12 never saw Dr Ashmore again which I regret very much. Would love to see Cardiac Dept now to see the changes in how this surgery is performed in 2019

Lori says: reply

I was born with Tetralogy of Fallot. Dr Ashmore did a complete repair in 1961. I owe my life to him. I feel he has always been part of my life and We remained in touch until 2000.

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