Dr Mitchell Notaras was born on 26th March in 1933 to Greek immigrant parents Antonius Notaras and Ianhe Megalokonomos, in Grafton, Australia.
He completed his secondary education at Newington College, Sydney and then he entered Sydney University Medical School at the age of 16 as a recipient of a Commonwealth Government Scholarship. As a university student he appreciated the medical and surgical experience gained at the Grafton Base Hospital with doctors Mulhearn, Harris and Holland.
He did his clinical undergraduate studies at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, then returned to the hospital as a junior, then senior, medical officer. To gain experience abroad, he travelled to England as a ship’s surgeon on a cargo vessel and took work in London.
Notaras continued his studies while working at Hammersmith Hospital. He obtained fellowships of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Surgeons of England. He was also a senior registrar and Medical Research Council fellow at St. Mark’s Hospital for Colorectal Diseases in London, and a senior registrar in surgery at University College Hospital in London.
Dr. Notaras was also a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and he held a number of consultant posts, including senior lecturer and honorary consultant surgeon at University College Hospital in London and was a consultant surgeon to the Italian Hospital London, St Luke’s Hospital for the Clergy, and Barnet and Edgware general hospitals.
The Greek-Australian surgeon was a recognised teacher in surgery at the University of London, and visited and lectured in 28 countries. Notaras’s special interest was in colorectal surgery, mesh repair of hernias, and rectal prolapse. He introduced lateral subcutaneous internal anal sphincterotomy for anal fissure, now an established procedure.
Visiting academic posts included Professor in Surgery at the University of Curatiba, Brazil, the University of Bergen, Norway, and the University of Khartoum, Sudan.
Dr. Notaras published in various surgical journals, and wrote chapters for a number of surgical textbooks, including Maingot’s Textbook of Abdominal Surgery, Robb and Smith’s Textbook of Operative Surgery, Nyhus’s Textbook of Operative Surgery, Nyhus’s Textbook of Abdominal Surgery (Spanish), and Surgical Clinics of North America. He was a member of the Editorial Board of two journals, ColoProctology and Hernia.
Dr. Notaras established a company, Abgene (later taken over by Apogent Corporation, USA). Abgene became a leader in Europe, specialising in the manufacture of molecular biological reagents, special plastic consumables and instrumentation for life sciences. It also became involved in research, both inhouse and through collaborations with universities and industrial partners, particularly in gene and DNA technology.
As a form of appreciation towards his Australian citizenship and the people of the country where he was raisd, he funded a million dollar scholarship in perpetuity in colorectal surgery, the Mitchell J Notaras Fellowship in Colorectal Surgery. The fellowship provides an opportunity for aspiring young Australian surgeons to spend three years involved in colorectal clinical work at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, colorectal research, and a period of one year abroad at a centre of excellence.
After his retirement, Dr. Notaras returned to his grandfather’s house on the island of Kythera, Greece, where he became involved with the Kytherian community. He purchased the equipment needed for the local hospital and the retirement home.
Dr Notaras regularly travelled to Australia including Grafton where he, along with his brothers Angelo and John, and cousin Spiro, restored the heritage listed Saraton theatre as he “wanted the Clarence Valley to have the best”. The theatre was originally built by his father and uncle in 1926.
Dr Notaras was a prodigious reader throughout his life, and in his retirement, and a man of great knowledge. He died in the town of Frilingianika, on the island of Kythera, Greece, on the 30th July, 2011.