Edward H. Bishop, M.D.

Edward Bishop


With the death on December 10, 1995, of Edward H. Bishop, MD, Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the specialty lost a pioneer in maternal-fetal medicine, the world lost an original thinker whose research helps society to this day, and his family lost a loving husband and father.

Dr. Bishop was a giant among obstetrician-gynecologists; his fame was achieved both as a private practitioner and as an academician. He was one of the first physicians to treat the fetus as a patient by giving an intrauterine transfusion and one of the first obstetricians to deal with genetic diagnosis of the fetus. His worldwide fame relates to the Bishop Score: a method of evaluating and scoring the cervix in regard to success or failure of induction of labor. This score has proved to be one of the most outstanding contributions to ensuring the safety of the mother and child during the induction process; it is used more than 1000 times a day worldwide. Dr. Bishop joins the ranks of private practitioners who made major contributions to medicine such as the practicing ophthalmologist who linked rubella with fetal disease or the private practitioner who linked thalidomide to its severe fetal consequences. As an academician, Dr. Bishop continued to write and do research in fetal testing and therapy; his reputation was that of a very competent and caring physician, caring not only for his patients but also for the residents he taught. His fame was not local to Pennsylvania or North Carolina but national and international.

As Acting Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the early 1980s, I was asked by President Friday to welcome a group of traveling Japanese obstetrician-gynecologists. We met in the conference center on Raleigh Road in Chapel Hill. President Friday and Chancellor Fordham welcomed the group. I then spoke briefly to welcome them and to introduce Dr. Ed Bishop, who would talk to them about the changes in obstetrics and gynecology in the United States. As soon as Dr. Bishop walked to the podium, the Japanese obstetrician-gynecologists stood up, bowed appropriately, and took many, many pictures of him as he arrived at the podium. Dr. Bishop in his humble way gave a faint smile of approval. It was quite a dramatic event. I had the opportunity to see this faint smile again just days before his death when I related stories about the Board examinations in Chicago.

As you know, Kipling wrote a poem relating to his vision of an ideal man; Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas Gandhi, was taught by his grandfather and father to read Kipling's poem over and over again. With due apologies to Kipling, Arun Gandhi changed the poem to develop the ideal man as a more concerned man and a man of commitments. I would like to read his version and ask that we reflect upon the life and contributions of Dr. Bishop as well as his many hobbies of orchid growing, bridge, and dollhouse making.

In the garden of life, if you can be a tiny seed, cast in the dirt to sprout;
If you can still grow tall and strong, and bear sweet, nourishing fruit for others;
If you can exude an unforgettable fragrance, through blossoms that enchant others;
If you can remain staunch and steadfast, through devastating storms;
If you can continue to spread goodness, while people hack at your limbs;
If you can be useful in death as in life, as a tree decays and blankets the forest's floor;
If you can move people to exclaim, "Oh what a giant that was!"
Then, my friend, life and its meaning will no longer remain shrouded in mystery.

Indeed, Dr. Bishop was a giant among men.

Robert C. Cefalo, MD

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