Lives of the fellows

Rodney Charles Michell

b.21 June 1928 d.29 November 2001
MB BS Lond(1950) MRCP(1954) DMRD(1957) FFR(1959) FRCP(1976)

Rodney Charles Michell was a consultant radiologist at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester. For 24 of his 32 years there he was one of a team of only two, in a department that today keeps seven radiologists busy.

Rodney was born in Broken Hill, Australia, and moved to the UK in 1937 at the age of nine. He proudly retained his Australian passport despite such inconveniences as separate passport queues for his wife and family (who held British passports) at airports. Perhaps this was an advantage when his children were small!

Rodney was attracted to medicine through his father who was a general practitioner in Broken Hill and subsequently in London. He attended Lewes County School for Boys in Sussex and then went on to study medicine at Guy's Hospital, qualifying in 1950.

From 1951 to 1955 he was a medical specialist in the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving as a medical officer in the Brigade of Guards, and subsequently officer in command (major) of the medical division at the British Military Hospital, Hanover. In 1956, he was recalled to service during the Suez crisis. During his career in the RAMC, he was awarded the Tullock memorial prize for tropical medicine and the Ronald Martin gold medal for military medicine.

In 1955 Rodney decided to pursue a career in diagnostic radiology. He became a registrar at Guy's, and was then a senior registrar at St George's Hospital, Hyde Park Corner. He then moved to Winchester where he spent the rest of his life. Rodney's demeanour was that of a conservative or traditionalist, but in fact he was a great innovator and was responsible for bringing up-to-date radiology practice to Winchester. Arteriography was followed by obstetric and abdominal ultrasound in 1974. The arrival of ultrasound in Winchester was soon followed by a first report by Rodney on foetal meningocele, observed on the now outdated B ultrasound scanner. The scanning of all pregnancies, and the search for such foetal abnormalities using more sophisticated equipment is now mainstream practice.

As clinical director, Rodney, with his manager's hat on, pushed through the acquisition of a CT scanner, battling with the bizarre managerial opposition that such purchases encountered in those times. However, CT was not his 'thing' and Rodney only used the scanner on the machine's first ever patient and then never again.

The advent of the breast screening programme in the early 1990s was of great interest to Rodney and a natural development from the symptomatic mammography that had gone before. Rodney established a fine service in Winchester and it continues to flourish today.

Rodney was a strong family man and married Anne, a radiographer, in 1952. They were proud of their three children. Their elder daughter Sarah became a paediatric nurse, and Penelope, the younger, a ceramics conservator. Their son, Michael, the eldest of the three children, is a consultant radiologist at King's College Hospital and director of the breast screening service there, achieving eminence in his chosen field.

Rodney was a wise and helpful colleague and friend. In the last year of his life he bore the miseries of prostate cancer and bone metastases with as much fortitude and cheer as it is possible to have under the circumstances.

Oliver Wethered

(Volume XI, page 397)

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