Date: 03 Sep, 2019   Time:

Tribute to Prof. Christian Guilleminault

Kah-Lin Choo

I am forever indebted to Prof. C. Guilleminault (known fondly as CG) for his generosity in accepting me as a visiting fellow back in late 1996. As a Higher Physician Trainee in Respiratory Medicine, my knowledge in Sleep Medicine was rudimentary. Through discussions during daily polysomnogram reviews and regular journal clubs, he tirelessly taught and instilled in us the curiosity to learn more about sleep medicine. His answers to our single-sentence questions were never less than one paragraph. We learnt from CG’s journey in defining obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and his teaching on how this upper airway disease was different from obesity hypoventilation. He also shared with us (vividly) OSA cases with unusual presentation (including his first paediatric patient with vital organ damage and a young fit athlete with dysrrhythmia).
In clinics, CG’s compassion was manifested in his perseverance and genuine interest to help patients resolve their issues. Even after the patient had left the clinic, he would painstakingly make phone calls to parties who might be able to help. Here was a Giant and Icon in academic medicine who was sensitive and devoted to helping patients solve their unique individual problems.
CG has broadened my horizon in medicine as a whole and modelled how multi-disciplinary collaboration could lead to treatment breakthroughs. I am sure that CG’s legacy will live on, through his students and protégé, as we continue to unravel the mysteries of sleep medicine and benefit patients’ lives.