Dr Walter Chin Dies

Date Published: 
Stabroek News
Stabroek Staff

The medical fraternity was thrown into shock yesterday morning following the news of the death of physician Dr Walter Chin in Trinidad.

Dr Chin, 72, was flown to the neighbouring island on Thursday after suffering a mild stroke, and was reported to be in a stable condition. However, he succumbed some time on Sunday night.

Yesterday, some of his friends and close associates spoken to said they were shocked over his death, adding that Guyana has suffered a great loss. While they all knew he was ill, none of them thought he would have died.

"The irony of it all is that Walter did all the right things and took care of himself," lamented Mayor Hamilton Green when contacted yesterday.

Minister of Health Dr Leslie Ramsammy described Dr Chin's death as a "terrible loss for the ministry and for me personally."

At the time of his death, Dr Chin was in private practice at the Woodlands Hospital. Contacted yesterday, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, Dr Neville Gobin described the doctor's death as "very shocking, I never really expected it."

He said he got the news when he visited the hospital early yesterday morning and recalled that he had known Dr Chin since he was a child as they both grew up in Albouystown; before Woodlands Hospital they both worked at the Georgetown Public Hospital.

"I am very surprised. I knew he suffered a mild stroke but I never expected him to die and I am shocked to know that he has died."

Another person who grew up with Dr Chin and worked with him at both hospitals was Dr Bud Lee who told this newspaper yesterday that he has known the doctor for 60-odd years.

"We attended the same school, the same university. I knew him very well and we were good friends. His death is a big shock to all of us. Just less than a week ago he seemed to be perfectly well and now to lose him it is rough.

"Walter and I have been associated closely for years. This is unbelievable. Walter had the reputation of being hard working and dedicated and he was involved in a lot of things."

Green yesterday described the death as a personal shock and loss for him. "I am just distraught," he commented. The mayor recalled that it was only last Thursday he returned from Trinidad and felt ill and the first person he attempted to contact was Dr Chin, only to receive the news that he was ill and had to be flown out.

"We were personal friends from babyhood. We grew up together. His father had a grocery and cake shop and my father a drug store right opposite each other at the corner of James and Barr streets in Albouystown."

Although Dr Chin was a little older than Green they were still buddies and attended Queen's College together. Green said the doctor was a very good cricketer.

Dr Chin served as chief medical officer of the Ministry of Health when Green was minister and Green recalled that he was extremely reliable and dedicated.

Dr Ramsammy commented that Dr Chin was a professional both in the public and private sectors for a number of years adding that even while in the private sector the doctor still made contributions to the public sector. "This is a terrible loss. Dr Chin also served as a member of the medical council and was always willing to help."

Dr Ramsammy said Dr Chin was always available to him to offer advice and or just to talk to. "Guyana has suffered a terrible loss. I sympathise with the members of Dr Chin's family."

At the time of his death Dr Chin was the President of the Guyana Cancer Society (GCS) and also Chairman of the Guyana Cancer Board. Mitzy Campbell, a member of the GCS said: "We the members of the society and also of the cancer survivors' group are really devastated over his passing."

She noted that Dr Chin had been pushing for the cancer treatment centre to be set up and pledged that the members of the GCS will continue Dr Chin's work and move to have the centre named after him. Dr Chin has been the president of the GCS for almost all of its existence.

Dr Chin was also the head of former Guyana Agency for Health, Education & Food Sciences (GAHEF) and was columnist in the Sunday Stabroek.

He was married twice. His first wife was Bernice with whom he had six children. He later divorced her and married Trinidadian, Jay, with whom he had one son who is in his early twenties. The boy recently graduated from a university in Canada and according to Dr Lee, both parents had attended their child's graduation.

Reports are that Dr Chin's body will be flown back home and his funeral is expected to take place on Thursday.