Aubrey Milunsky notes:
It was with great sadness that I learned of Solly’s and Cynthia’s passing. I admired him as a teacher when I was a student, and as one of his residents in pediatrics at Baragwanath Hospital, I experienced first-hand the remarkable qualities of this very special man.
Among his many virtues, was his deep concern for patients and colleagues alike. His sensitivity, thoughtfulness, kindness and understanding of the human condition made so many of us his ardent admirers. He was a true mensch.
He was a superb clinician. Not only did he have excellent clinical skills, but he was blessed with an impeccable bedside manner, showing empathy and sensitivity for the patients in his care. At his side, I learned and honed valuable clinical skills I still use today.
He was a mentor in every sense of the word. When I approached Solly with the plan to study babies suffering from cold injury [Sclerema], his encouragement ultimately led to my first set of published papers. When, as a young physician, I shared with him my plans to also become a specialist pediatrician, his support overcame my concerns about the costs and risks involved. The seeds of inquiry and the clinical skills he imparted, helped so much in my career as a successful Pediatrician and Geneticist.
I remained in contact with Solly for over 60 years. I was able to share with him his important influence on my life and thank him personally. I acknowledged his influence on me in one of my books as follows: ‘Solomon Levin taught me the basic and finer points of Pediatrics and Pediatric cardiology. … By example I learned from him humility, sensitivity, and the benefit to the child of a reassuring voice and hand’.
I mourn with his family the passing of Solly and his devoted wife Cynthia, but also celebrate a life lived with such meaning.
Other tributes from his former students, colleagues and friends included:
Professor Peter Thompson wrote: ‘Solly taught thousands of Wits medical students, and mentored many paediatricians, especially paediatric cardiologists. His all-round ability in paediatrics was legend - he was simply the best! But more than that, he was the ultimate mensch.’ Read an obituary of Solly by Professor Thompson here: https://www.sajr.co.za/news-and-articles/2020/07/30/the-heart-of-a-child
Bernard Kaplan a Wits graduate and Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Former Director of Pediatric Nephrology at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Stated, ‘He was one my greatest teachers and inspired generations of pediatricians who went onto leading roles all over the world.’
Daniel M Cohen said: ‘My exposure to Prof Solly Levin was limited to my student days and a short stint at TMH... He was an inspiring teacher and consummate clinician. He had a distinctive presence and a booming voice. He steered me in some measure to Congenital Heart Surgery.’
His colleagues in the South African Heart Foundation wrote
‘A giant of a man who loved teaching and whose knowledge knew no bounds. All paediatric cardiologists in South Africa and beyond our borders are indebted to him for his contribution to the sub-speciality.’
And a patient, Danelle Strydom wrote
‘I owe my life to this amazing man. For the first 13 years of my life I was under the impression that he was the grandfather that we visited once a year to make sure I still had a healthy heart that he had fixed for me. I will forever be in grateful. It’s thirty-three years after my surgery that "Oupa Solly" performed and my heart has not given an ounce of trouble again.
Tribute to Solomon E Levin (1929 – 2020) Professor of Pediatric Cardiology
Contributed by Avroy Faneroff and Aubrey Milunsky
Edited by Geraldine Auerbach MBE., London September 2020.