Lives of the fellows

Edmund John Eastham

b.30 April 1945 d.6 July 2009
MB BS Newcastle(1969) MRCP(1973) FRCP(1987) FRCPCH(1997)

Edmund John Eastham (‘Ed’) was a consultant paediatrician with a special interest in gastroenterology at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI), Newcastle-upon- Tyne. An authority on disorders of the gut, he helped to design a machine that measured breath hydrogen.

Born in Blackburn, Lancashire, he was the son of Henry, headmaster of a primary school, and his wife, Kathleen, who was also a teacher. Educated at St Mary’s College in Blackburn, he studied medicine at the University of Newcastle. He qualified in 1969 and did house jobs at the RVI and then, in 1971, the Newcastle General Hospital. The following year he became a registrar in paediatrics to the Newcastle Health Authority rotation and stayed in this post until he joined the Wellcome research laboratory at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in 1974 as a research fellow in the department of medicine.

From 1976 to 1977, he spent some time in Boston in the gastroenterology unit of the department of paediatrics at the Massachusetts General Hospital doing further training in paediatric gastroenterology with Allan Walker. On his return, he joined the staff of the RVI as a senior registrar in the department of child health and, in 1984, was appointed consultant paediatrician with a special interest in gastroenterology.

A prolific writer, he published numerous papers on such topics as breast feeding, iron and ferritin metabolism, milk allergy, intestinal permeability, peptic ulceration and infant formulae antigenicity. He also gave over 70 presentations in Europe and, occasionally, further afield, and was a member of the British Paediatric Association, the British Society of Gastroenterology and the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. An expert on lower intestinal gas, both professional and lay audiences greatly appreciated his talks on the subject. Those entitled Flying a kite apparently went down particularly well with the Women’s Institute.

He enjoyed playing cricket, playing the guitar and using the computer. When he retired he took up painting and golf. Throughout his life he was also a dedicated pipe smoker.

In 1970 he married Joan, who had been his first ward sister, and they had twin daughters and a son. Immensely proud of his family, he was the paediatrician whom other colleagues would turn to if they had problems with their own children. When he died from cancer, he was survived by his wife, children and twin grandchildren.

RCP editor

[BMJ 2009 339 4342 - accessed 10 March 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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