Friday, 22 June 2012


July 1959  photograph courtesy of Rosemary Millis (on my left)

 Some reminiscences of Guys as a student:- Meeting up with some of our dissecting group around“George” our dissecting room body and noting that fortunately he had good musculature and and minimal fat.    Vivas with Colin Wendell Smith and Peter Williams. Brilliant Embryology lectures from Peter Williams. Incomprehensible lectures by Dr. Gent on Entropy and Jack Hunt on Neurophysiology which made me work really hard on my own to try to understand the subjects.     Lectures by Roger Warwick on anything other than Anatomy (which he seemed to have little knowledge of.)     Being very short of money as a student restricted my social activities considerably which was very disappointing, but at least left me plenty of time for studying.
 Second MB came and went and then we had an outstanding Pre-Clinical Course given by George Scott.    I think we all learnt an enormous amount about examining patients and the interpretation of physical signs in an effortless sort of way.    George seemed me the outstanding teacher at Guys. Being let loose on the wards as a medical ward clerk was quite daunting, but I latched onto the houseman Stewart Cameron when I could and followed him, trying to keep up with his thoughts which raced ahead at a ferocious speed on medical take-in. I remember him treating a patient with Southey’s tubes for intractable dependent oedema and draining off litres of fluid. I also remember him treating a lady with high potassium and renal failure with injections of insulin and glucose to drive the potassium back into the cells.  This of course was before the development of dialysis.

 The Senior Consultant on the first Medical firm was Arthur Douthwaite who was currently acting as an expert witness in the Bodkin Adams trial, where it was alleged the unfortunate GP had hastened the death of some of his elderly female patients by the administration of morphine for a pecuniary advantage, in that he had benefited from the Wills of the said ladies.  I think Dr Adams got off the main charge but was found guilty of not keeping his drug records correctly.     He was struck off the medical register for a two or three years but then re-instated. Many other things come to mind. Paediatrics with Ronnie Mackeith who loved making the dramatic statement such as “You are not a proper doctor until you admit to yourself that you have killed 10 or was it 12 patients!”      Dear Philip Evans who was probably the best doctor I have met and who incidentally was responsible for telling Mike O’Brien that he looked like a large “Spider” when Mike was sitting in Phillip’s Out–patient’s wearing a very dark suit and with arms and legs akimbo.

 A visit to the Fountain Hospital before decompression treatment for hydrocephalus and seeing young children with enormous heads in obvious distress as well as a microcephalic similarly distressed.        On the district in the Peabody buildings assisting in the delivery of a woman lying on a dirty mattress with only the open draw of a chest available to put the newborn baby in. Then being offered some tea in an old jam jar!      At Pembury Hospital I delivered some 25 babies including an unexpected second twin and a unexpected premature breach (successfully).   The lady (a Mrs Turner I recall) with twins was very cross that she had not been warned in advance.    I recall a very excitable Italian lady who insisted on standing up during the whole of the delivery which was quite tricky to manage.

 The London to Brighton Walks were something that I did take part in, managing to be in the leading pack of walkers on three occasions.     I suppose this showed that I had a capacity for endurance activities which was good training for my first marriage! and indeed for life in general.   ( I have done a lot of distance running over the years including a Marathon in the Bordeaux region of France where there were 18 wine tasting points and a row of ambulances waiting at the finish!)       Hope to do the Comrades Marathon (56miles) in South Africa next year.
 My main career was in Academic Pathology as Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader and (very briefly) Professor of Histopathology at Guys and then Professor of Pathology in Nottingham for 16yrs.     My specific interest initiated at Guys and inspired by Stewart Cameron was in the microscopic interpretation of renal biopsy material and I served on the WHO Committee for Nomenclature of Renal Diseases from 1976 onwards.            In “retirement” I have worked in several departments of general Diagnostic Histopathology in the West Country when they have been short staffed and I am still doing a small amount of post-mortem work for the West Somersetshire Coroner.   

    Retirement has involved flying my own light aircraft (G-ILPY) around the UK,  France and Ireland including quite a lot of  instrument flying.    The rest of the time is spent managing and maintaining a small estate in Devon with several gardens and interacting with our now large family.    David Turner                             
G-ILPY  a Cessna 172SP

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