30 years after José Pinto Correia's departure
Consensually acclaimed as one of the greatest figures of national and international Gastroenterology, José Pinto Correia left too many footprints for time to be able to erase.
Born in his beloved birthplace of Tremês, Santarém, on 22 April 1931, José Pinto Correia never denied his origins, nor his people, and always returned to his home when he craved privacy and silence.
A bright student of the Faculty of Medicine of Lisbon, with a GPA of 19, which would only be supplanted by the 20 score of his Bachelor's dissertation. Even in his days as a student, he would make a distinguished career in the Catholic University Youth, but his intellectual maturity and time made him move away from some more conservative ideals.
A spirit too large to fit into only one country, he went to England, where he came across a more mature and structured health system and worked with big names in Gastroenterology. Still in London, he completed a course in Cardiology, but it was Gastro that allured him. As a disciple of Frederick Wood, under whose guidance, João Pinto Correia decided this was his way. It was also under his lead that he returned to the Hospital of Santa Maria.
The world led him to some of the greatest clinical and scientific references of Gastroenterology in the United States, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Spain were some of his fronts in modernity.
In the same way that he brought new ideas on how doctors should relate to the patient, saying that "the patient should always put first and foremost," he tried to import some of the fundamental foundations of a good National Health Service. However, the social and civic causes of the country did not escape him nor did they go into second plan. Proportionally focused on the university, he created strategies to widen borders in the University by opening new institutional relations with health centres. The healthy cohabitation between the Faculty and the Hospital of Santa Maria was also debated, affirming that it could not be a distant relation, strongly defending a centre of medical formation, which, at the time, was not yet structured.
"A natural leader," wrote Professor David Ferreira in 2001, "he imbued any activity in which he took part with a dynamic that was difficult to keep up with. He was frontal in his criticisms and in the defence of his beliefs, whose discussion and criticism he, nevertheless, accepted". This leadership led him to complete a Presidency of the Scientific Council at his Faculty of Medicine - Lisbon, but charisma ends up betraying those who brilliantly have it. Although he had been promised undisputed support and votes for a second term, he realized that he could not count on some who claimed to be his friends, because such support would never come. He lost his second election and some faith in his friendships, but he learned his lesson, says David Ferreira. In the name of justice, or for pure leadership, he had the right to what should be his and was invited by the Dean, Virgílio Meira Soares, to be Vice-Rector of the University of Lisbon, where he stayed.
It's been 30 years since his death. A death that suddenly came upon him, with a cancer that shortened his time and physical space, making his time as Vice-Rector too short and in between treatments and the struggle to stay alive.
He passed away on 14 September 1988.
In the many remarkable phrases recorded on paper, he proved to believe in a rightful meaning for life and that "life would take care of showing who is right, without anyone needing to get on their tiptoes", but another quote was the most striking of all and, to this day, no one has found an explanation. The man who studied science to save others, the perfectionist doctor who received everyone who came to him in his private practice and that went to Tremês to take care of his own, was "betrayed in the back like Caesar."
In a tribute that took place on 14 September, where his daughters, grandchildren, friends, colleagues and other curious people gathered to remember the Professor and doctor José Pinto Correia. We asked his daughters to tell us about her memories of her father. His daughters Clara and Margarida Pinto Correia accepted to display their affection and longing and wrote it down. His daughters Rosário and Teresa Pinto Correia asked to keep their memories with them, but they also told us about their father.
José Manuel Duarte Pinto Correia.
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