Lives of the fellows

Frank Derek Thompson

b.18 May 1939 d.15 July 2006
BChir Cantab(1964) MB(1965) MRCP(1971) FRCP(1983)

Derek Thompson’s background in cardiovascular medicine as well as nephrology allowed him to undertake a dual career as nephrologist at both the St Peter’s hospitals and the Harefield and Mount Vernon group. His wisdom, selflessness and integrity made him an obvious choice as the last dean of the Institute of Urology and Nephrology, and then vice-dean, faculty of clinical science, at UCL.

The St Peter’s group or three Ps (St Peter’s, St Paul’s and St Philip’s) were scattered throughout the Covent Garden area of London, and were in reality four hospitals, together with the Shaftesbury Hospital which housed the Institute of Urology and Nephrology. In 1991 the three Ps combined and moved together with the Institute to the Middlesex Hospital as part of the new University College and Middlesex Medical School. It took wise counsel and even handedness to complete this move so successfully.

Before the move to the Middlesex, Derek Thompson and his colleagues had provided all the renal care for the cardiac surgery and heart transplantation that Sir Magdi Yacoub and his colleagues were performing at Harefield Hospital. Many heart and lung transplants with renal failure were successfully dialysed and ventilated in the basement of St Paul’s Hospital, Endell Street, in the centre of Covent Garden. He worked three consecutive days in central London and the rest in the north west. On both sites, such was his industry and charisma that most people thought he was full time at their respective sites.

After school, Derek had spent three happy years at St Catharine's College, Cambridge, where he met his wife Liz, and then completed his studies at St Mary's Hospital. Much of his career as a junior doctor was spent at St Mary’s and in 1974 he was appointed as senior lecturer to the then Institute of Urology. Nephrology had been brought to the St Peters’ Hospitals in the early 1950s by Arthur Roy Harrison [Munk's Roll, Vol. X, p.201] and A M Joekes, and with their retirement Derek became senior consultant nephrologist, St Peter's Hospital, from 1981 until his retirement in 2003. He was also consultant nephrologist to Harefield Hospital (from 1979 to 2004), to Mount Vernon Hospital (1979 to 2003) and honorary consultant nephrologist to the National Heart Hospital (1980 to 2003). From 1985 to 1998 he was dean, Institute of Urology and Nephrology (UCL), at University College and Middlesex Medical School; and vice-dean, faculty of clinical science, University College and Middlesex School of Medicine (1990 to 1995).

Determined that the nephrological part of the Institute would continue its strong academic tradition in teaching and research, Derek was a guiding force in the creation of the first established chair of nephrology in the UK. The money for this was raised by the St Peter’s Trust and it is now the St Peter’s chair in nephrology (UCL).

He had a great reputation as a nephrologist and physician at all the sites he worked and provided academic stimulation and encouragement to medical and nursing colleagues alike, together with a major teaching input to postgraduate activities. He was an ever dependable source of encouragement and good advice, particularly when times where hard. As an after dinner speaker he had inexhaustible archive of anecdotes and jokes and was always able to find appropriate contributions for colleagues ringing for oratorical help at the last minute.

In 1964 he married Elizabeth (Liz) Ann Sherwood and there were two sons and one daughter. A great sportsman (rugby, cricket and golf), gardener and ornithologist, it was his family and his Christian faith that were the bulwarks of his life and career. Medical problems in his final years were borne silently and courageously.

Guy Neild

(Volume XII, page web)

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