Lives of the fellows

Donald Jason Ward

b.21 June 1931 d.6 June 1988
MB ChB St And(1955) MRCP(1960) FRCP(1979)

Donald Ward was born in Brighouse, Yorkshire, the son of a trade inspector. There were no family links with the medical profession.

He was educated at the Hipperholme Grammar School and St Andrew’s University medical school, qualifying in 1955. After house appointments to Professor (later Lord) Hunter at Maryfield Hospital Dundee, and at the Bradford Royal Infirmary, he spent 1957-61 at the Royal Hospital Sheffield in junior medical posts. In 1961 he moved to the Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital at Taplow as senior registrar to Eric Bywaters. He remained there for four years, at a time when this internationally renowned unit was in its heyday. He then spent a year as a lecturer in rheumatology in the department of medicine at Bristol University before moving to the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital Oswestry in 1966.

The hospital at Oswestry had been founded by Dame Agnes Hunt, with the help of Sir Robert Jones, and developed through the efforts of a series of eminent orthopaedic surgeons, including Sir Reginald Watson-Jones and Sir Henry Osmond-Clark. The problems posed by rheumatoid arthritis and related disorders formed an increasing portion of the clinical workload at the hospital following the conquest of tuberculosis and poliomyelitis, and the need for a rheumatologist was recognized. As a physician heavily outnumbered by orthopaedic surgeons the early years at Oswestry were not always easy for Donald Ward as he struggled to set up a rheumatology unit. Nevertheless, he succeeded in obtaining his own ward and undertook lengthy outpatient clinics, with patients travelling long distances from north and mid-Wales, Cheshire and Herefordshire, as well as from Shropshire itself. With the help of a biochemist, D J Lea, he set up a rheumatology laboratory which not only carried out routine laboratory tests but also produced a series of papers on immunological topics related to rheumatology. Facilities in the rheumatology unit and in the laboratory were developed with the help of funds provided by the Oswestry Rheumatology Association, which Donald had founded soon after arriving at Oswestry to provide a self-help group for patients with rheumatic disorders.

Donald Ward was a rather shy man, who disliked large meetings and rarely travelled far from his home or hospital; consequently his achievements were not widely recognized. In small groups, however, he was witty and talkative, and he was widely revered by his patients.

Donald met his wife Mildred Rose Turner (Penny) when she was nursing at the royal hospital Sheffield, and they and their two sons formed a close family unit, having played the piano in his youth, Donald retained an interest in classical music, but perhaps his favourite form of relaxation was working in his delightful garden overlooking the Shropshire plain and the Welsh hills.

RC Butler

[Lancet, 1988,2,805]

(Volume VIII, page 522)

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