Lives of the fellows

Elchon Hinden

b.30 November 1908 d.27 July 1977
BA Cantab(1929) MRCS LRCP(1931) MA(1932) MB Bchir(1933) MRCP(1934) MD(1946) FRCP(1970)

Elchon Hinden was born in Liverpool, to Israel Lewis Hinden,a Lithuanian draper of that city and his wife Florence Henrietta (née Cohen), whose father, Joseph, was a shopkeeper.

Hinden was educated initially at the local Rathbone School and proceeded to the Liverpool Collegiate School, from where he gained a major entrance scholarship to Cambridge University, becoming senior scholar at Trinity College. He gained first class honours in Part I of the Natural Sciences Tripos and proceeded BA in 1929. His clinical studies were undertaken at St George’s Hospital, London, and he qualified in 1931; an MD was obtained in 1946, with a thesis on aetiological aspects of gastroenteritis.

Elchon Hinden was successively casualty officer, house surgeon and house physician at St George’s Hospital from 1931 to 1932, and then assistant medical officer at various hospitals in London until 1941, when he joined the RAMC, serving in West Africa, Belgium and India. He was demobilized in 1946, with the rank of temporary major as a medical specialist. There followed a period as assistant to the paediatric department at Guy’s Hospital and then he was appointed paediatrician to Whipps Cross Hospital, London, in 1947, with responsibilities as visiting paediatrician to Thorpe Coombe Maternity Hospital and Forest Gate Maternity Hospital, both in East London. Hinden was the first paediatrician appointed to Whipps Cross Hospital and remained as such until his retirement in 1973. During all but the last eight months of those 26 years, he was a ‘single-handed’ consultant.

Among many arduous duties, he found time to be a member of the advisory committee of the National Association of Mental Health, and served on the case committee of the Independent Adoption Society. With great insight into the needs of children, he brought paediatrics and the concept of child health into the community in East London, long before ‘community paediatrics’ became fashionable.

Elchon Hinden was a wise man. He spoke eloquently and wrote with great clarity. He enjoyed travel, photography and, most of all, his collection of books. His intention on retiring was to spend his time amongst his books, but always tireless he spent part of his retirement working as a clinical medical officer in north-west London, amongst the children he cared for.

In 1933 he married Rita Gesundheit, daughter of Jacob, an orange grower. As Gerda Cohen, she was an eminent writer and journalist, sharing Hinden’s belief in true socialist principles. They had a daughter and a son. Their son embarked on a medical training, to the delight of his father, but soon found that music was his true vocation.

Elchon Hinden was active until his death. He collapsed after a morning swim in north London and died shortly after. He would, perhaps, like to be remembered for his memorable dedication in his book, A Primer of Paediatrics, for it sums up the tenor of his professional life: ‘to the children, the original, long-suffering teachers of paediatrics’.

BW Lewis

[Brit.med.J., 1977, 2, 709]

(Volume VII, page 268)

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