Lives of the fellows

Max Friedman

b.17 December 1931 d.8 December 1987
MB BCh Wits(1958) MD(1966) MRCPE(1961) PhD(1968) MRCP(1971) FRCPE(1971) FRCP(1977)

Max Friedman’s career covered a remarkable range of medical practice and research. He was born and brought up in South Africa and studied medicine at Witwatersrand University. After his first house posts he came to London in 1960 where he quickly established himself on the academic side of adult clinical medicine, initially at the Hammersmith with Cuthbert Cope [Munk's Roll, Vol.VI, p.118], then at University College Hospital with Charles Dent [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII, p.l48]. It was at this time that his interest in paediatrics was first stimulated. In 1966 he was appointed as a senior registrar in the paediatric department at UCH. Having made the switch from adult medicine, he never looked back on this decision and quickly grew into an enthusiastic and highly skilled paediatrician. From 1968-69 he was an MRC travelling fellow in paediatric endocrinology at Johns Hopkins. On his return to the UK he was appointed consultant at the Whittington Hospital and set about creating an extremely effective paediatric centre which became renowned all over the world for the quality of the medical care provided, and for its excellence as a centre of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. Generations of medical students at University College Hospital owe a substantial part of their paediatric teaching to Max Friedman, and many became imbued with his infectious enthusiasm for the subject. Indeed enthusiasm, vitality, and an incredible capacity to see things through whatever the effort required were the hallmarks of all Max Friedman’s activities, whether professional or personal. In his early life he faced many difficulties; he had to work nights as a plumber to finance his medical studies. On qualification as a doctor he is quoted in a Johannesburg newpaper interview as saying: ‘It is surprising what one can do in 18 hours a day if one organizes and wants something badly enough.’ He never stopped working those 18 hours.

Max made a number of important contributions to metabolic medicine and endocrinology and, in particular, observed that the use of ACTH as a therapeutic agent in children caused much less retardation of growth than equivalent doses of corticosteroids. But above all. it is as a master of clinical medicine that he will be remembered. He cared very deeply, indeed passionately, for the well being of his child patients and fought vigorously on their behalf against the restrictions in services which darkened his last years in the NHS.

Faced with mounting evidence of coronary insufficiency, he retired from his hospital appointment in 1985 while continuing with a diminishing commitment to part-time private practice. Those who knew him understood very well that in his short life Max lived twice as intensely, and accomplished at least twice as much, as any ordinary man. He married Clarice Ann in 1958 and they had three sons. They all survived him.

LB Strang

[Brit.med.J., 1988,296,798; Lancet, 1988,1,252; The Times, 30 Jan 1988]

(Volume VIII, page 172)

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