Eminent throat consultant whose patients included Saddam Hussein and Mother Teresa

Born: June 16, 1937;

Died: December 10, 2017

THE eminent throat consultant Professor Arnold Maran, who has died aged 81, was no run-of-the-mill medic. He was always discreet about the many famous people he had treated but it is known he was consulted by Saddam Hussein and his son Uday, Hastings Banda (the former president of Malawi) and Mother Teresa.

He was known affectionately by many of his patients as “The Voice Doctor” and was much in demand to check the larynx of famous rock stars, opera singers and actors. He was often consulted during the Edinburgh Festival when a diva’s voice was giving problems. As he himself modestly put it, "performers flying in from warm climates, coming to a chilled Edinburgh in August and rehearsing in draughty, unheated halls suffer quite a lot of colds and sniffles. If someone is performing in an opera with big costumes, there’s a lot of sweating and they become dehydrated.”

Professor Maran was acknowledged throughout the medical profession as an exceptional clinician and the Edinburgh Voice Centre, which he co-founded, gained a worldwide reputation. The former director of the Edinburgh Festival Brian McMaster has commented: "Arnold Maran’s skill, knowledge and care have saved many a singer’s career and many a performance."

Arnold George Dominic Maran was the only child of a confectioner whose forbears had come to Scotland from Italy at the end of the 19th century and lived in Leith. Arnold attended Daniel Stewart’s College where he is remembered as a speedy wing three-quarter in the 1st XV and a talented pianist. He then read medicine at Edinburgh University and, after graduating in 1959, gained his MD in 1963. He did his basic training as a surgeon and specialised in the head and neck at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary. He trained as a cancer specialist at Iowa University before returning in 1973 to take up an appointment as a consultant at Dundee Royal Infirmary.

He returned to study at West Virginia University but after a year he was appointed consultant otolaryngologist at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh. During this period Professor Maran’s clinical interests moved on to endoscopic sinus surgery and in the 1990s to the pathology and treatment of voice disorders. This led to his setting up the specialist NHS clinic in 1990 and he was recognised as one of the world's leading voice experts. The Herald wrote about the clinic in 1996: “His clinic has become a model for similar centres in the UK and remains among the most advanced - it now has a bank of digital “voice-prints'' made by singers when on top form, and used to aid diagnosis when vocal problems occur.” Professor Maran told The Herald: “The great and the good have got to where they are because they are trained to take care of themselves and their voices.”

His care for his patients saw no bounds – especially by a well-known opera singer with a respiratory infection who he drove from hospital to his Edinburgh Festival performance each evening. “At £40 a ticket,” the professor commented, “and with no understudy, the show had to go on.”

Saddam Hussein insisted that Professor Maran inspected his throat in Baghdad as his voice had become hoarse. Diplomatically, Professor Maran suggested the Iraqi leader was speaking too fast. “I told him to speak more like Jimmy Carter. He actually took up that idea and changed the way he spoke.”

Professor Maran was less polite about Uday Hussein who flew to Edinburgh for a consultation – with armed guards in attendance. A former student of Professor Maran was Saddam’s personal physician so the professor saw Uday as he had nasal problems. It was not an easy consultation. All Professor Maran said was, “I could have been fed to the lions when I think back. I had no idea he was a lunatic.”

Of the many academic awards he received, Professor Maran was particularly proud of his involvement with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh serving consecutively as treasurer, secretary and ?nally in 1997 as president. He retired from surgery that year.

Professor Maran was a well published author and wrote widely on medical subjects. Otherwise he published his autobiography (The Voice Doctor), Golf at the North Pole, an account of a visit he made inside the Arctic Circle on a Russian icebreaker, and Mafia: Inside The Dark Heart. He was a keen golfer and a member of both the R&A and Bruntsfield, an enthusiastic jazz pianist, a member of the Magic Circle and of The Monks of St Giles. He led a busy life and divided his time between his Edinburgh home in Orchard Brae and houses in Fife and Umbria.

The current ENT Newsletter says of Professor Maran: “Arnold Maran had outstanding energy and drive, tending to ?nd routine boring. He was always creative academically, publishing many papers and editing several textbooks. Arnold was a clear and concise teacher and attracted many international postgraduate students to the department.”

In 1966 he married Anna De Marco, a physiotherapist, whom he had met while they were both working at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. She survives him, as do their daughter and son.