Dr. Neely Panton is the commencement speaker at the University College

Dr. Neely Panton (Head, General Surgery) is the commencement speaker this year at the University College of Cayman Island.

From the Commencement program:

Dr. Neely Panton, is Clinical Professor and Head of the University of British Columbia Division of General Surgery, Vancouver and University of British Columbia hospitals. He is also the Governor of the American College of Surgeons, British Columbia.

Dr. Panton is the son of Caymanian National hero the Honourable Ormond Panton and Mrs. Naomi Panton. He spent his childhood in Grand Cayman before leaving to pursue his medical education at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica in 1971. He quickly decided to become a surgeon.

Laparoscopic pioneer

Dr. Panton is considered a pioneer in laparoscopic surgery, often referred to as “keyhole surgery.” Instead of making large incisions for operations, surgeons performing laparoscopic operations make micro-incisions, using tiny instruments and insert tiny cameras that help them see inside the body. Patients who undergo laparoscopic surgery typically experience far less pain and have a much faster recovery time than had they undergone traditional procedures. Additional benefits are less haemorrhaging and a reduced risk of infection.

In May, Dr. Panton was featured in The Vancouver Sun for “test-driving” an innovative imaging system designed to reduce the risk of complications that can occur during laparoscopic gallbladder surgery. “The University of British Columbia Hospital is the first in Canada to use the new surgical imaging system to help reduce risks of surgical complications during small-incision (laparoscopic) gallbladder surgery,” according to The Sun.

Recently, Dr. Panton received a “Recognition of Excellence” coin from the International Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons for his “tireless commitment to improving the quality of patient care in British Columbia through leadership and training of surgeons in minimally invasive surgery.”

Intended to return

Dr. Panton says that when he began his medical training, it was always his intention to return and work in Cayman, where his family ties date back to the 1650s. He pursued training that would prepare him for working in a small hospital with limited resources, and he chose rotations in obstetrics and pediatrics, which would be useful back home.

“I never wanted to disappoint my mother and father,” he said. “But more importantly, I didn’t want to fail the Caymanian people. That was always a huge incentive to succeed.”

Even though he currently practices in Canada, he has continued to maintain strong ties to his home and continues to give back to the community where he grew up and the community where he was trained. He has contributed equipment to the University of the West Indies to help develop their laparoscopic surgery services and has helped to establish a surgical skills training center at the Mona Campus in Kingston, Jamaica. He also helped with Hurricane Ivan relief, and donated a substantial amount of equipment and medical supplies to the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town.

Although he is still working and busy traveling extensively to attend conferences and to mentor surgeons, he tries to return to Cayman at least twice a year to visit his two sisters who still live here and many of his friends from the class of 1969, and to spend some time fishing.

He is fiercely proud of the country’s heritage and hopes that someday the dream for Cayman that his father had will be achieved – that the territory will eventually be independent.