Lives of the fellows

Gordon Carl de Gruchy

b.24 February 1922 d.13 October 1974
MB BS Melb(1944) MD(1948) MRCP(1950) FRACP(1957) FRCP(1966)

G.C. de Gruchy, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, died of disseminated melanoma in October, 1974, after a long illness, at the age of 52.

Gordon Carl de Gruchy, an Australian by birth, son of Thomas and Norma de Gruchy, pharmacists of Coburg, matriculated at Xavier College and graduated in medicine in Melbourne University in 1944. After junior appointments at St. Vincent’s Hospital, he travelled to England in 1950 and worked for a year as a research fellow in the Department of Haematology at the then Postgraduate Medical School of London, and subsequently as a Rockefeller Fellow in the United States. On his return to Melbourne in 1951 he was appointed a research fellow in the University Department of Medicine at St. Vincent’s Hospital, and was subsequently appointed in 1962 to the University Chair of Medicine in succession to the late Professor Haydon at the relatively early age of 39. He resigned this Chair in 1969 for health reasons.

de Gruchy’s main interest throughout his professional life was haematology, and he made many notable contributions to knowledge of the hereditary and acquired haemolytic anaemias, and aplastic anaemia; and his enthusiasm for haematology was a major factor in the founding of the Haematology Society of Australia, of which he was the first Honorary Secretary. It was natural, but nevertheless a notable distinction for him, still a relatively young man, to become President of the Xlth Congress of the International Society of Haematology which was held in Sydney in 1966.

He was also an outstandingly successful author, and his book Clinical Haematology in Medical Practice, notable for its clarity and commonsense, was widely used by physicians and specialists in haematology throughout the world. Recurrence of his illness sadly prevented the completion of a 4th edition. He managed, however, to complete a new book on the effect of drugs on the blood.

Carl de Gruchy’s abilities as a research worker and communicator were outstanding, but his many friends will retain in their minds, too, the picture of a delightful and charming man. He liked to travel and made many visits overseas, particularly to the United Kingdom and Europe, often taking in a scientific meeting or two and some picture galleries en route. He liked all kinds of art, but paintings in particular, and he had been hoping to write a book on the interconnections between medicine and painting.

His decision to resign his Chair of Medicine soon after the onset of the illness which was ultimately to prove fatal was regretted by many of his friends; but he knew very well what the likely outcome would be and decided to throw aside the pressures of a Chair in medicine and to enjoy increased opportunities for travel, and to concentrate on his writing from which he derived so much satisfaction. His premature death was viewed with deep sorrow by his many friends. He was unmarried.

Sir John Dacie

[Brit.med.J., 1974, 4, 547]

(Volume VI, page 147)

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