Lives of the fellows

Gillian Coysh Hanson

b.25 March 1934 d.23 May 1996
MB BS Lond(1957) MRCS LRCP(1957) MRCP(1964) FRCP(1978) FFA RCS(1988)

Despite many attempts to entice her elsewhere, Gillian Hanson worked all her life in the East End of London, founding the intensive therapy unit at Whipps Cross Hospital.

Her father was John Hanson, a metallurgist and chemist. She qualified at the Royal Free Hospital in 1957 and married Roger Farrand during her house jobs and began a family almost immediately. They had three children. She was a medical registrar at Whipps Cross Hospital, and was later appointed as a research fellow to undertake work with a high pressure oxygen chamber then being developed for the treatment of tetanus and gas gangrene. She became acquainted with problems of lung function, kidney failure and other acute metabolic disorders and was seen by the hospital as an ideal person to head the intensive therapy unit, then under consideration. She was trained and groomed for the job and went on to develop the unit to a very high standard.

She wrote extensively, travelled widely, lecturing and teaching. She developed further interests in parenteral nutrition, medicine in pregnancy, and continued with her interest in diabetes. She produced the first text book on intensive therapy and contributed to and had many publications following this.

In 1993 she moved from intensive care to develop the care and management of diabetes mellitus on a community basis. Her work in obstetric medicine continued with enormous gusto; diabetic care was transformed and a diabetic centre was developed in the central part of Whipps Cross Hospital.

Her expertise was recognized. She became an examiner of the Royal College of Physicians and was honoured with the Fellowships of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Anaesthetists.

She was a remarkable person, cycling to work from her Docklands home, swimming at intervals in the Thames, managing her home and family, together with the demands of her appointment.

At the age of 62 she retired from the National Health Service and went immediately to trek in the Himalayas with her husband, reaching the old Everest base camp in Tibet at 17,000 feet. Walking was one of her great loves. Both returned to England with a cough; her husband developed pneumonia, she developed pneumococcal septicaemia and died very rapidly of septicaemic shock. Ironically she was a world expert on the management of this condition.

P L Wright

[The Daily Telegraph, 2 July 1996; The Times, 21 June 1996; Brit.med.J., 1996,313,164]

(Volume X, page 189)

<< Back to List