Lives of the fellows

George Donald William McKendrick

b.9 June 1919 d.25 April 2010
BA Oxon(1939) BM BCh(1943) MRCP(1950) FRCP(1967)

George Donald William McKendrick was a consultant physician in medicine and infectious diseases at St Ann’s Hospital, Tottenham, and Rush Green Hospital, Romford. He was born in Rochdale, Lancashire, the son of William McKendrick, a physician, and Eva McKendrick née Martin, the daughter of a draper. He was educated at Epsom College and then went on to study medicine at Pembroke College, Oxford, and St Mary’s Hospital, London.

After wartime experience as a ship’s surgeon on troopships in Europe and the Far East, Donald started training in infectious diseases in a very different era compared to today. He held training posts in Southampton, Liverpool and Bristol, managing a wide spectrum of ‘classical’ infectious diseases, including measles, whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus and epidemics of poliomyelitis in the 1950s and also smallpox. By the time he retired from the NHS in 1979 immunisation had controlled most of these diseases.

In 1955 he was appointed as a consultant physician in the department of infectious diseases at St Ann’s Hospital. Five years later, he added a post at Rush Green Hospital. He was also a lecturer and clinical tutor at Middlesex Hospital, St Bartholomew’s and at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

He had an enquiring mind and regularly wrote articles in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Infectious Diseases, The Lancet and Public Health. He was a founder member of the British Society for the Study of Infection, later to become the British Infection Society and subsequently the British Infection Association.

After retiring from the NHS, Donald spent five years as a consultant to the Wellcome research programme during the development of the first targeted antiviral drug acyclovir, and was involved with setting up a number of seminal trials of this agent.

He was committed to his clinical work and to undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, but his involvement was matched by his love of sailing, with many exploits in the seas around the UK, as well as in other northern European waters, often carefully described in articles in Yachting Monthly. He had a lifelong love of writing and, after his retirement, he established himself as the first medical columnist in Saga magazine, to which he contributed monthly for about 10 years. He also worked with the Samaritans.

He was a much-loved and committed family man. He married Evelyn Gabriel in 1943 and they had a son and two daughters. His wife, children, eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren survived him.

Mike McKendrick

[Brit.med.J.,2010 341 3897]

(Volume XII, page web)

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