Lives of the fellows

Donald Yardley Mackenzie

b.9 April 1925 d.23 October 2009
MB BS Lond(1947) MRCS LRCP(1947) MD(1952) DCH(1953) MRCP(1954) DPhysMed(1960) FRCP(1979)

Donald Yardley Mackenzie was a consultant rheumatologist in Guildford with a special interest in the management of back pain. He was born in Gravesend, Kent. His father, Donald Trevelyan Geoghegan Mackenzie, was a Thames river pilot. His mother was from Orkney. He was educated at Gravesend County Grammar School and trained in medicine at St Thomas’ Hospital Medical School, which was evacuated to Hydestile in Surrey during the war.

After house jobs and National Service in the Royal Air Force, Yardley worked at St Peter’s Hospital, Chertsey, at Great Ormond Street and at Guy’s, eventually becoming a senior registrar in paediatrics. In the late 1950s, however, career opportunities in paediatrics were limited, so Yardley decided to train in physical medicine under James Cyriax at St Thomas’ Hospital. Here he developed a special interest in back pain.

He was appointed as a consultant in rheumatology and rehabilitation in Guildford in 1965. His charming personality and gentle manner served his patients well. He developed a busy private practice in Waterden Road, Guildford, and for a few years in Wimpole Street, London. He applied the principles developed by Cyriax to the diagnosis of back pain. This allowed him to give specific and effective treatment for conditions that are often managed better by osteopaths and chiropractors than by orthodox physicians. He frequently used epidural and other local injections, and enabled many patients to avoid surgical intervention, particularly for acute disk prolapse. Not that Yardley was against surgery: he would be quick to telephone an orthopaedic colleague if his precise diagnostic skill indicated that this was the correct treatment for his patient. He retired from the NHS in 1990, but continued to practice privately until 1995.

Yardley had many outside interests, including cricket, tennis, photography and art. He had a lifelong interest in cars; he owned a succession of fine makes, including Jaguar, Mercedes, Ferrari and Rolls-Royce. These he drove extensively when commuting between Guildford and his home at Angmering-on-Sea.

Yardley Mackenzie married Geraldine Wilcoxon in 1949. They celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in June 2009. Having enjoyed good health for most of his life, Yardley developed acute pancreatitis only two weeks after the celebrations. He was survived by his wife, son, daughter and six grandchildren.

Nicholas J Odom

[Brit.med.J.,2009 339 5006]

(Volume XII, page web)

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