Lives of the fellows

Kenneth Hugh-Jones

b.21 December 1923 d.2 May 2013
MB BS Lond(1946) MD(1952) MRCP(1952) FRCP(1971) FRCPCH(1997)

Ken Hugh-Jones, known as ‘H-J’, was a paediatrician at Westminster Children’s Hospital, London, and a pioneer in the development of bone marrow transplantation in children. In the 1970s he was the clinician on the team that developed this technique for treating patients with immune deficiency, inborn errors of metabolism, aplastic anaemia, leukaemia and thalassaemia. The team performed the first successful bone marrow transplant for immunodeficiency disease in the UK and, shortly afterwards, the world’s first unrelated bone marrow transplant for chronic granulomatous disease.

He was born in Herne Bay in Kent, the son of a civil engineer, Evan Bonnor Hugh-Jones, and his wife Elsie Muriel Hugh-Jones née Iggulden. He was educated at Uppingham School and then graduated in medicine at St Mary’s Medical School in 1946.

From 1947 to 1949 he was a lieutenant and then a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving with the 6th field regiment of the Royal Artillery in Palestine and Tripoli.

His training in paediatric medicine began at the Hospital for Sick Children at Great Ormond Street in 1952. He moved on to become the resident medical officer at Westminster Children’s Hospital and was subsequently chief assistant in the children’s department at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. At this time he gained a Fulbright fellowship to the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, where he carried out an extensive review of galactosaemia and hyperbilirubinaemia in premature infants.

His first appointment as a consultant paediatrician was at St Albans City Hospital in 1961, followed by Mount Vernon Hospital in Northwood, Middlesex, and the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. He was appointed to the staff of Westminster Children’s Hospital in 1965, where he initially covered general paediatrics and neonatal care. His research interests included urinary tract infections, dyslexia and asthma.

In 1970 he became the lead paediatrician on the multidisciplinary bone marrow transplant team, working closely with the immunologist John Hobbs [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web] and the haematologist John Barrett, who were based at Westminster Medical School. Their work with children with metabolic disorders such as mucopolysaccaridoses was innovative and ground-breaking. H-J focused on designing and implementing the clinical research protocols for the paediatric programme. He also played a crucial role in managing very complicated clinical management issues, leading his team with distinction in demanding and emotionally challenging areas of patient care. By 1988 over 100 bone marrow transplants had been performed. His name was associated with numerous publications in the literature on bone marrow transplantation. He also cared for Anthony Nolan, a child with an immune deficiency in need of a transplant. The search for a donor, although unsuccessful, gave rise to the establishment of the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Register.

Following the relocation of Westminster Children’s Hospital and the transfer of the transplant programme to Bristol in the 1990s, H-J became an active trustee of the charity COGENT (Correction of Genetic Diseases by Transplantation).

H-J was an all-embracing paediatrician who had infinite common sense and an exemplary bedside manner. He applied strong basic principles to complex clinical problems and he inspired great respect and loyalty from those who worked with him. He was kind and considerate, and was well-liked by his patients and their families.

In 1955 he married Denise Hull. She was also a paediatrician and, alongside his responsibilities as a general paediatrician at St Albans City Hospital, they together ran a full development assessment clinic there. After her death in 1986 he married Ruth Heppel, a portrait painter. He was a great host and family man, and was survived by Ruth, his four children and 12 grandchildren.

Martin Brueton

[Brit.med.J., 2013 347 4472]

(Volume XII, page web)

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