Lives of the fellows

Desmond Nicholas Croft

b.14 June 1931 d.7 September 2012
BA Oxon(1953) BM BCh(1956) MRCP(1959) DM(1966) FRCP(1975)

Desmond Nicholas Croft was physician in charge of the department of nuclear medicine at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, and a pioneer of nuclear medicine in the UK. He was born in Devonport, the son of Charles Richard Croft, a physician [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.123], and Phyllis Mary Croft née Lee. He came from a medical and scientific family: John Croft, a cousin of his grandfather, was a surgeon at St Thomas’; his great grandfather on his father’s side was a doctor in the City of London; and, through his mother, he was related to both Sir Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle. Croft was educated at Westminster School and then went on to study medicine at Trinity College, Oxford, and St Thomas’ Hospital. He qualified BM BCh in 1956.

From 1957 to 1959 he was a house physician, a senior house officer, a registrar and a senior registrar at St Thomas’ Hospital. He then joined the RAMC as a captain, for his National Service, and was a medical specialist at the British Military Hospital in Tripoli.

Back in civilian life, he was a senior medical registrar at West Middlesex Hospital. He was then a Nuffield Foundation fellow in gastroenterology to Franz Ingelfinger [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VII, p.296] in Boston.

In 1969 he was appointed as a consultant physician at St Thomas’, in charge of what was then known as the ‘isotope lab’. The department moved into new premises in the 1970s and was renamed ‘nuclear medicine’. Under his leadership the department pioneered, amongst other things, quantitative lymphatic scanning, xenon lung ventilation scans, parathyroid imaging and, perhaps most importantly, PET scanning. The first PET centre in the UK opened in 1991 at St Thomas’ and Guy’s hospitals.

At St Thomas’ Croft was chairman of the consultants committee. From 1972 he was also a consultant physician at the Royal Masonic Hospital and, from 1974, at King Edward VII Hospital for Officers.

He represented nuclear medicine on multiple committees, including at the Royal College of Physicians. He was a founder member of the British Nuclear Medicine Society and was president from 1976 to 1978. From 1990 to 1993 he was president of the European Board of Nuclear Medicine, and while in this role helped ensure that nuclear medicine was recognised by the European Union of Medical Specialists as a specialty in its own right.

Outside medicine, he was a keen swimmer. As a student he represented both Westminster School and Trinity College at rowing. His interests also included prints, fossils and golf.

In 1960 he married Hilary Diana Russel Rendle. They had three children – Charles, Nicholas and Hilary.

RCP editor

[British Nuclear Medicine Society www.bnms.org.uk/press-office-and-news/press-office/dr-desmond-croft-pioneer-of-nuclear-medicine-in-the-uk-obituary.html – accessed 9 July 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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