Cardiovascular Medicine
Designatory Letters: 
MB Lucknow 1954, MRCP Edin 1959

Shyam Singh was a grandson of the last Maharajah of Ajaigarh, Madhya Pradash in the foothills of the Himalayas. His sixth form studies were interrupted for four months by typhoid fever and complicated by peripheral neuropathy with lasting effects on his left leg. He graduated from King George Medical College, Lucknow in 1955 and rapidly made his way to Britain.

He was advised by Max (later Lord) Rosenheim PRCP (London), whom he had met in India, in the choice of training posts leading up to MRCP. After a registrar post in cardiology in Birmingham, he obtained a fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital with Lot Page and Paul Dudley White. On return to Birmingham, he was appointed senior registrar in cardiology at Queen Elizabeth Hospital and paediatric cardiology at Birmingham Children's Hospital (BCH). Shyam trained during a period when invasive assessment of heart valve disease, particularly mitral, together with the surgical treatment of these conditions was developing rapidly. Professor Melville Arnott's department had established cardiac catheterisation methods and Professor Pon d'Abreu was pioneering cardiothoracic surgery. At Birmingham Childrens' Hospital, Roy Astley, paediatric radiologist designed a custom-made cine angiography suite and Shyam enjoyed a productive relationship with him for many years. Sabbaticals at The Mayo Clinic and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden followed. That Shyam could follow such a richly international training is testament to his remarkable ability.

He was appointed as the first West Midlands consultant paediatric cardiologist at BCH in1967 in a joint appointment in adult cardiology at Dudley Road Hospital (DRH),later City Hospital, Birmingham. Here he developed coronary care and an invasive cardiology service for much of Birmingham and the Black Country in conjunction with Dr John Mackinnon.

In 1966, Rashkind described balloon atrial septostomy as palliative treatment for transposition of the great arteries. Within a short time, Shyam and colleagues at BCH undertook and reported the first successful case in the United Kingdom (UK). Subsequently, Shyam carried out catheter-based procedures to cure or palliate children with congenital heart disease and worked closely with surgeons to improved cardiac surgical outcomes at BCH.

After he moved full time to DRH in 1983, he established the first West Midlands Grown Up Congenital Heart clinic. He recognised the difficulties that children encountered in transition from adolescence to adulthood as they entered their third decade of living with congenital heart disease. The long-term complications of their disease in adulthood were often unclear. These patients had particular needs including advice about career choices and prospects for pregnancy and future family life. In this setting, Shyam and Joe de Giovanni reported successful treatment with balloon dilatation of series of adults presenting late with valvar pulmonary stenosis and aortic coarctation.

Shyam continued his interest in interventional cardiology during the 1980's at DRH, one of a handful of UK hospitals which undertook coronary angioplasty without immediate access to on-site cardiac surgery. With introduction of coronary stents, this pattern became more widespread. This paved the way towards development of district based angioplasty services throughout the UK after recognition of the benefits and safety of urgent mechanical reperfusion therapy for ST elevation myocardial infarction.

Over many years, Shyam welcomed foreign cardiology trainees to his department. Many were later able to join formal adult training programmes and succeeded to consultant posts. Nursing, medical and technician staff colleagues appreciated his invariable patience and kindness. Although he avoided committees and administration, he always provided very strong support to his colleagues.

After retirement, Shyam kept avidly up to date with medical and cardiology literature. His recall of information was often astonishing. He maintained his lifelong love of cricket.

He is survived by his second wife, Indra and three children from his first marriage.