Lives of the fellows

Thomas Semple

b.22 August 1915 d.21 January 2008
BSc Glasg(1935) MB ChB(1938) MD(1945) MRCP(1947) FRCP Edin(1951) FRCP Glasg(1964) FRCP(1970)

Thomas Semple ('Tommy') was a consultant physician at the Victoria Infirmary, Glasgow. His early interest in respiratory medicine was replaced by cardiology and he was involved, from the earliest days, in the development of cardiac resuscitation.

He was born in Glasgow, the son of Thomas Mitchell Semple, a solicitor, and his wife, Isa née Archibald, the daughter of Ebenezer, who was a master baker. Educated at Glasgow High School, he studied medicine at Glasgow University, qualifying in 1938.

He did house jobs at the Victoria Infirmary and Hairmyres hospitals in Glasgow. In 1942, he joined the RAMC as a medical specialist and served in the UK and West Africa (the Gold Coast). Later he was stationed in India, in Bangalore and Poona, and became lieutenant colonel in charge of the medical division.

On demobilisation he returned to Glasgow and was appointed a consultant physician to Hairmyres and the Victoria hospitals, initially specialising in respiratory diseases. He realised that, with the decline of tuberculosis and no possibility at that time of curing lung cancer, his career could be better advanced in cardiology and this became his chosen field.

In 1963, he and his colleagues were the first to present successful cardiac resuscitation results in the UK. He published extensively on the topic and on the coronary care of the elderly. Active in all the UK Royal Colleges of Physicians, he was also a founder member of the Scottish Society of Physicians and its president in 1975. Chair of both the UK and the International Society of Cardiology working parties on cardiac rehabilitation, he benefited personally from his knowledge following a heart attack at the age of 52. Making changes to his lifestyle and introducing a personal exercise regime, he lived for another 40 years.

A keen fives player at university, he also enjoyed badminton and golf. He relished country pursuits such as angling and deer stalking, and, in his later years, gardening and bridge.

He married Elspeth Roubaix (‘Betty’) the daughter of Robert Scott Dewar, a consultant surgeon, in 1942. They had four sons. Betty predeceased him and he was survived by his sons, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Two of his sons, Peter and Colin, became fellows of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

RCP editor

[BMJ, 2008 336 675; Lives of the Fellows of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh – www.rcpe.ac.uk/obituary/dr-thomas-semple-frcp-edin accessed on 19 December 2014]

(Volume XII, page web)

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