On a foggy evening on Thursday 23 November 1967, a road accident claimed the lives of Doctor and Mrs. Oswald Van Lantschoot. The Association of Former Student Doctors of the University of Louvain lost its president, Louvain Médical its treasurer, the French section of the Faculty of Medicine a lecturer and a devoted friend.

Oswald Van Lantschoot

Born in Dendermonde on 24 January 1903, Oswald Van Lantschoot, after accumulating great and highest distinctions during his studies, obtained in Louvain, in 1927, the degree of Doctor of Medicine, Surgery and Childbirth. After one year of assistant in the service of Professor G. Debaisieux, he will perfect his surgical skills during 4 years in the Famous BrugeS School directed BY Seebrechis; In 1932, he moved to Namur. His competence and dynamism immediately ensured him a brilliant success. Quite naturally, in this environment where everything smiles at him, the young Flemish man from Dendermonde becomes a true Namurian. He was adopted and becomes the president of the local Rotary club. Twice, he was elected by his peers as president of the Council of the Order of Physicians of the province of Namur. At the time of his death, he was still a member of this Council and its delegate to the Superior Council of the Order.

A great traveller, he attended surgical congresses and visited foreign centres, always on the lookout for new techniques. His service became a veritable school. He was as demanding a boss for his assistants as he was for himself.

When the University of Louvain decided in 1958 to decentralise the teaching of the 4 doctorate in medicine, by creating the Regional Centres that we know as Cremec (Regional Centre for Complementary Medical Education), it is Doctor Van Lantschoot who is asked to assume the presidency of the Cremec of Namur. He will do so until his death, creating a library, awakening failing enthusiasms, intervening widely both in person and with his money. The Cremec of Namur became a real teaching centre. In 1965, the University will recognize the merits of its president, by appointing him as a lecturer.

A heart attack will only temporarily slow down his activity and soon he is seen again with the same enthusiasm and fervour in the operating room and on the rood screen of Namur Cathedral. For beneath his appearance of a good laugh was a convinced Christian, who had preserved from his family's eduction a deep faith and a surprisingly rigid moral sense. He willingly hid them under jokes which only abused those who knew him badly. Rigidity, however, did not mean fanaticism; he was open to all ideas. He was open to all ideas, and everything about him was a contrast: his sometimes gruff appearance hid a heart of gold, his whole temperament did not exclude a great art of diplomacy.

It is in the test that moral qualities reveal themselves best. The one that affected Oswald Van Lantschoot in 1962 was terrible for a surgeon. He had to undergo the amputalion of a leg. It is the long convalescence and the slow re-education to the prosthesis. He is facing up to it and his good mood doesn't seem to be altered.

This operation at the St. Joseph University Clinic in Herent will further strengthen the ties between him and the French section of our faculty. Having appreciated the value of the surgical team to which he had confided, he wants to support its efforts. Do we know that it is thanks to the patronage of Oswald Van Lantschoot that cardiovascular surgery under extracorporeal circulation was able to begin right from the beginning from 1962, at St. Joseph's Clinic in Herent. At that time, he offered us the pumps of the first artificial heart that was used there. It is still these pumps that are currently being used in animal experiments, which have led to the recent success of heart transplantation. This Cardiovascular Surgery Centre was dear to his heart and he followed its successes with pride. Al would return to it again as a patient just over a year ago, after a tiring trip to the Far East. Fortunately, a surgical operation avoided a second amputation.

In the meantime, in 1963, the Association of Medecins who had left Leuven decided to split up, for the birth of the Association of Former University Student Doctors on the one hand, and the Association of Former University Student Doctors on the other hand of Leuven and on the other hand at the "Vereniging van de Geneesheren Alumni". For the Fleming for the ardent defender of Punishment of our University, Celtic division was a heartbreak. He chooses to come with us. It was difficult to convince him to become our president, but we couldn't have placed our trust in him more firmly. While making sure to establish cordial relationship with the "Geneesheren Alumni", he devotes himself with all his soul to our cause, putting his deep sense of organization at our service. He is keen to be a part of all the postgraduate information sessions organized by Astoriation. Each year, during the promotion of new medical doctors, he is the one who addresses them the first words of Congratulations and welcome from the large family of doctors who have left Leuven. We will see him again for a long time, sitting in the front row in a jagiuelte, slowly rising and climbing ...and he's not using his cane. His solicitude also goes to Louvain Medical. As a son of a printer, he had kept a knowledge of the trade and of the requirements on the quality of the typography, from which our review benefited.

The physical handicap, which has necessarily reduced his surgical activities, paradoxically gives him new fulfilment. The surgeon who has been torn from his operating room wants to continue to serve. His life was perhaps never fuller and more varied than in the last four years: in Namur, of course, where he can devote more time to the Cremecs, at the same time as he participates very actively in the development of the renovation plans for the Saint-Camille Clinic: in Louvain, at the Association of Former Student Doctors, then at the programming committee of the new Woluwé-St-Lambert University Clinic, where, always present, he brings us the fruits of his experience; in Brussels, at the Ministry of Public Health, where he has chaired the Hospital Council since its foundation. It is moreover while returning from a meeting of this commission and while going to Namur to a meeting of the Council of the Order of Physicians that death struck him in full activity.

In all these activities, we could see him optimistic, smiling, hiding his sufferings and his anxiety. His interlocutors could not assume how aware he was of the threat, perhaps more serious than the death that hovered over him. But if he had had to hold out until the end, he owed it to his wife, who made sure to keep up with his optimism. Wherever Dr. Van Lantschoot had to go, Mrs. Van Lantschoot, a faithful chauffeur, was as if on duty. One could no longer imagine them without the other, and even death did not want to separate them. We, who had so often feared for him, were left helpless by this brutal end: but Christians who were always ready, perhaps this is the one they would have chosen.

For the Association of Former Student Doctors of the University of Louvain, for Louvain Medical, for the programming committee of Woluwé-St-Lambert, the loss is immense. We still had high hopes for him, in the difficult times we are going through.

But if we regretted him, it is because of what he gave us. The French section of the Faculty of Medicine of Louvain owes Dr. Van Lantschoot a great debt of gratitude, which it partially testified by officially attending his funeral.

During these, our sadness was softened by a sense of pride. Our President had gathered around him, among an innumerable audience, the lodges of Louvain, the Jesuits of Namur, professors from Brussels and Liège, the president and the secretary general of the "Geneesheren Alumni", three bishops, a mayor, a governor and a minister, He ends his speech in French with a few words in Dutch. Our friend Oswald, Flemish turned Namurian, deeply Belgian at heart, must have smiled at his wife in paradise, telling her in Namur that he had never dreamt so much,

F. Lavenne Secretary General of the Association of Former Student Doctors from Leuven.

Source: Louvain Medecin 86: page 593-595, 1967 TOP