AN EMINENT breast cancer surgeon from the United States collapsed and died just hours after arriving to start work at a Scottish hospital.
The tragedy happened as Keith Amos, widely recognised as one of the leading figures in his field, became unwell shortly after beginning his first day as a visiting surgeon.
The 42-year-old physician had earlier won a prestigious scholarship from the American College of Surgeons to study at the world-renowned breast unit at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital. He had turned up as expected early on Monday morning last week, having flown into Scotland with his wife Ahaji and their three daughters, aged ten, eight and six, the previous Sunday night.
Within a matter of hours, the assistant professor of surgery at the University of North Carolina complained of abdominal pains, but put it down to a pizza he had eaten.
He was later convinced by his new colleagues to go back and rest at the flat he was renting nearby for his family during their time in the capital. But within a short time he returned to the hospital’s accident and emergency department, where his condition quickly deteriorated and he became disorientated.
Despite attempts by medical staff to revive him, he lost his fight for life with his wife and daughters nearby.
Mike Dixon, professor of surgery and consultant surgeon at the Edinburgh Breast Unit at the Western General, said Mr Amos had developed an acute aortic dissection – a rupture of one of the body’s major arteries – that caused his sudden and unexpected death.
He said: “It all happened so quickly and there would appear to be no history of illness before.
“Naturally everybody is deeply upset by what has happened, but the response from the hospital staff in helping his family throughout and afterwards has been quite staggering.”
Senior officials from the American Embassy in London assisted his colleagues, who had flown to Scotland immediately on learning of the death, to organise funeral arrangements.
A post-mortem was carried out on Wednesday and a death certificate issued to allow a cremation to take place on Friday before the Amos family returned to their home in Houston, Texas.
A series of tributes have been paid to Mr Amos, who chose to specialise in breast cancer research following the death of his mother from the disease while he was at an early age.
One of his colleagues, Sean McLean, described him as being positive and dedicated, adding: “Mr Amos was a person who first and foremost enjoyed life.”