Keith Cunningham was the first black staff doctor at King Edward Memorial Hospital when he joined in 1970 and it was there he dedicated his life career to the development of pathology in Bermuda.
Dr. Cunningham’s early learning was at Central School in Pembroke from 1940-1945 and Berkeley Institute from 1946-1950. Like many people of colour he became very aware of racial segregation and this was with subjects offered at school. He noted the lack of Science education a subject he knew would be most needed in his chosen occupation. He was inspired by another great educator Thomas Neville Tatem at the time the Deputy Principle of the Berkeley Institute to further his studies so he attended the University of the West Indies and the University of London from 1953 -1960 to get the desire subjects he would need to further his career.
He started as a clinical Pathologist in King Edward Hospital in 1970 and brought with him a vast amount of experience from hospitals overseas. He pioneered the detective work of forensic pathology and delivered crucial evidence in Court for the Police. He at one point worked in an acting role as Pathologist when another doctor was on leave.
Dr. Cunningham was a Hematologist who specialized in blood diseases. He researched sickle cell anemia in Bermuda and helped develop a screening programme from birth for the hereditary disease. He created the sexual assault response team in 2000 and worked for the Red Cross which managed the Island’s blood bank until 2009 before it moved to the hospital. He along with a follow nurse Barbara Cooper a former chairperson of the Bermuda Red Cross worked at the blood donor centre and saw some interesting changes and noted that Dr. Cunningham worked for change and made things happen. He had an excellent memory and never hesitated to share his knowledge. At the suggestion of Dr. Cunningham that the hospital needed a apheresis unit they were both involved in getting the first apheresis unit (a high tech machine that separates blood components’ for the donor centre.
He gave his time at the Bermuda Junior Service League charity and the Bermuda Festival. He left us with a department well worth it’s salt. A strong and knowledgeable man who will surely be missed but his name will never be forgotten through out the annuals of history. Dr. Keith Cunningham born April 12th 1934 gone on to glory January 8, 2021 .