Lives of the fellows

John Wellington Barlow Forshaw

b.2 March 1923 d.20 April 2011
MB BChir Cantab(1945) MRCP(1949) MD(1953) FRCP(1970)

John Forshaw was a consultant physician at the Royal Liverpool Hospital with a special interest in haematology. He was born in Warrington, Cheshire, the son of William Barlow Forshaw, a solicitor, and Ethel Fleetwood Forshaw née Wellington. He was educated at Marlborough College from 1936 to 1940 and then went up to Caius College, Cambridge, to study medicine.

After qualifying in 1945 he served in the Royal Navy as a surgeon lieutenant on the troop ship HMS Ranee in the Far East. He was also on her final voyage to Norfolk, Virginia, when she was returned to United States Navy custody in November 1946. He was later appointed as the first medical officer at the newly commissioned Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose near Helston in Cornwall. John and his wife were invited back as guests of honour when the air station celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1997.

After completing his service in the Royal Navy, he worked first at Luton and Dunstable Hospital and then moved to Liverpool, where he was a registrar and then senior registrar at the Royal Southern, David Lewis Northern and Sefton General hospitals during the 1950s.

From 1959 to 1960 John was a fellow in haematology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, USA, sailing from Liverpool to Montreal on the old Canadian Pacific liner RMS Empress of France and then by train to Boston.

He returned to Liverpool and in 1961 was appointed as a consultant physician and physician in haematology at Sefton General Hospital. He worked at Sefton General until it closed and was then based at the Royal Liverpool Hospital until his retirement in 1988.

He was a general physician with a special interest in haematology during the period when clinical and laboratory haematology were not united into a single specialty. His major research interest was in the relationship between folic acid and vitamin B12 and a widely different series of clinical disorders. He published important papers on the diagnostic value of the serum folate assay, the effects of vitamin B12 and folate deficiency on small intestinal absorption, the various megaloblastic anaemias that were due to dietary deficiency of folic acid and the role of folic acid deficiency in related clinical disorders such as myelofibrosis and haemolytic anaemias. He also described the role of folate deficiency in the anaemia of pregnancy and in relationship to various drugs.

Overall, he was an extremely able general physician whose interest and research in haematology helped to set the scene for future developments in haematology in Liverpool and whose advice was sought by clinicians on haematological problems from a wide range of hospitals in the Liverpool region.

He was also a founder member of the Haematology Travellers Club, in which both clinical and laboratory haematologists and their families met in different parts of the country once a year to exchange different aspects of their work in the haematology field.

John Forshaw enjoyed an active retirement fell walking in the Lake District well into his eighties and was still playing squash until a year before he died. He died in Liverpool at the age of 88 and was survived by his wife, Muriel Bullivant née Jackson, whom he married in 1947, their two sons, David and Paul, and grandchildren, Hannah and Angus.

David Forshaw
Sir David Weatherall

(Volume XII, page web)

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