Ivan Lichter

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Ivan Lichter, ONZ, FRCS (14 March 1918 – 12 June 2009) was a thoracic surgeon and a pioneer in the field of palliative care in New Zealand. He was appointed to the Order of New Zealand, the country's highest honour and limited to 20 living people, on 2 June 1997.

Early life[edit]

Lichter was born in South Africa in 1918,[1] he received his secondary education from Grey High School in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.[2] He graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in 1940,[1] he served with the South African Medical Corps during the second world war.[2] After the war, he specialised in thoracic surgery and had his own medical practice.[1]

In 1951, he married Heather Lloyd and they were to have four children, three of whom also went into the medical profession,[1] he wanted to leave South Africa to get away from its politics, as the Afrikaans National Party started giving positions in hospitals to their supporters, and its antisemitism.[1][3] He had the choice between a place in Texas and a place in New Zealand that he thought was called "Dune Din"; he settled on the latter and came to Dunedin (/dʌˈndɪn/ (About this soundlisten)) with his family.[1]

Life in New Zealand[edit]

He was an assistant lecturer at the University of Otago and at the same time was a surgeon for the Otago Hospital Board. From 1974, he was interested in palliative care,[3] he retired from medical practice in 1984 and used the time to write Communication in Cancer Care, his most notable book.[3]

He moved to Wellington in 1986 and took up a medical directorship at Te Omanga Hospice,[1] he retained his directorship until 1993 and was an honorary consultant afterwards.[4]

Among the organisation that he belonged to:


Ivan Lichter died in Auckland on 12 June 2009, at the age of 91, he was survived by his wife, their four children, and eight grandchildren.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Bunton, Richard (30 January 2013). "Ivan Litcher". Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  2. ^ a b c "Palliative care specialist dies at 91". The New Zealand Herald. 15 June 2009. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Pickmere, Arnold (27 June 2009). "Surgeon brought dignity to dying". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  4. ^ "ONZ Biographical Notes". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 3 December 2013.