Harry Altman was born in Memel, Lithuania, the son of Michael and Ethel Altman. The family emigrated to South Africa and Harry was educated at Athlone High School, Johannesburg, and entered the University of Witwatersrand to study medicine. His clinicals being undertaken at the Johannesburg General Hospital and Baragwanath Hospital. After junior posts in surgery and medicine, he worked as senior houseman in paediatrics at the Coronation Hospital, University of Witwatersrand, before coming to the UK for postgraduate studies. After obtaining his DCH and his membership of both the Edinburgh and London Colleges, he returned to South Africa to take up the post of paediatric registrar at Baragwanath Hospital in 1953. He went into private practice in 1956 but continued to serve as a part-time paediatric consultant to several hospitals, including the Transvaal Memorial Hospital for Children, a teaching unit of the University medical school. He also served as a part-time lecturer in the department of physiology at the University of Witwatersrand and played an important role in the academic advancement of the department of paediatrics at Baragwanath Hospital.
It was at the Transvaal Memorial Hospital that he made his most important contribution. Together with Selma Krawicz, a clinical pathologist, he was instrumental in pioneering a paediatric haematology clinic. One of their responsibilities was the organized therapy of children with acute leukaemia. This was expanded by his successors into a renowned haematology and oncology unit. Harry Altman was an astute and knowledgeable clinican. He was involved in teaching both undergraduates and post graduates. He was always able to offer sound advice and final year medical students regarded him as a fair and conscientious examiner.
He married Norma née Kotzen in 1950 and they had four children, three sons and a daughter. He was a very friendly, helpful man, and he had a keen sense of humour. His hobbies included numismatics, stamp collecting and spectator sport; in his younger days he played soccer for the University and captained the team in 1946, when he was awarded a blue. He also obtained a half-blue in squash racquets.
S E Levin