Lives of the fellows

David Steel Lewes

b.26 August 1915 d.21 April 1997
BA Oxon(1937) MA BM BCh(1941) MRCP(1943) DM(1953) FRCP(1966)

A consultant cardiologist at Bedford General Hospital, David Lewes was a warm-hearted, compassionate and dedicated clinician. He had endless enthusiasm and a great sense of humour. New ideas crowded daily into his active brain. He invented multipoint electrodes for electrocardiography, using nutmeg graters as his prototype and investigated many forms of electrode paste, including tomato ketchup!

He was born in Sydney, Australia, and attended King’s School, Paramatta, New South Wales. In 1934 he went up to Christ Church, Oxford, where he gained a first and represented the University at judo. His last year at Oxford was spent researching the effects of vitamin C under Solly Zuckerman [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IX, p.612]. In 1941 he was appointed as a house physician at the London Hospital and later worked as a medical registrar at Southend Hospital.

In 1944 David joined the RAF and was posted to the Azores. It was here he was confronted by an epidemic of salmonella and typhoid. He located the source - a cook in a restaurant.

But his particular interest in medicine was cardiology. After the war he became Patterson research scholar in cardiology at the London Hospital. In 1948 he was appointed tutor in medicine and senior registrar at the Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith. His original enquiring mind and medical talents led to his appointment as consultant cardiologist to Bedford General Hospital in 1952.

He had many and diverse interests outside medicine; he was an expert botanist and in the early 1950s was commissioned by Kew Gardens to write about the growth and development of jumping cucumbers.

David felt passionately about human rights and injustice. His humanitarian outlook inspired him to study carefully the trial of James Hanratty whom he felt had been condemned by the press before his trial. He also joined CND’s Ban the Bomb campaign in 1961, sitting down at Westminster in protest.

David was a fine man in every way. He coped enormously with the onslaughts of attacks of severe depression and suffered thrombo-angiitis obliterans without complaint. Throughout he was supported devotedly by his wife Daphne and his family.

J F Goodwin

[The Daily Telegraph, 2 June 1997; The Times, 12 May 1997; Brit.med.J., 1997,315,192-3]

(Volume X, page 299)

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