Lives of the fellows

Arthur Hollman

b.7 December 1923 d.13 August 2013
MB BS Lond(1946) MRCP(1947) MD(1950) FRCP(1967)

Arthur Hollman was an eminent cardiologist, medical historian and plantsman. He was born in Daventry, Northamptonshire, the son of William Joseph Hollman, a bookseller, and Isobel Rowan Hollman née Sparrow. He was educated at Tiffin Boys’ School and then went on to study medicine at University College Hospital (UCH) Medical School. As a student he was awarded the senior undergraduate prize for medicine, the McGrath scholarship.

After junior posts at UCH and Horton General Hospital, Banbury, he worked in the rheumatic fever unit at the Canadian Memorial Hospital, Taplow, under the leading post-war British cardiologist Paul Wood [Munk’s Roll, Vol.V, p.456]. In 1949, at Taplow, he carried out unsupervised right heart catheters to study cardiac output in rheumatic carditis in convalescent children. He then did postgraduate work in cardiology in Montreal and Toronto from 1951 to 1952. On his return to the UK, he was a registrar at UCH and Wood’s clinical assistant at the National Heart Hospital in London.

From 1957 to 1962 he was a senior registrar to J F Goodwin [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XI, p.226] in the department of John McMichael [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IX, p.341] at the Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith, where he worked closely with the surgical team. In 1957 the heart-lung machine designed by Denis Melrose came into clinical use and, as senior registrar, he joined the heart team monitoring pressures in the operating theatre and doing the post-operative care. In May 1959, at the height of the Cold War, the team went to Moscow to demonstrate the use of the Melrose machine. They successfully operated on four children, and a photo of Arthur and the team appeared on the front page of Pravda, the official newspaper of the Communist Party. They were probably the first foreign group to work in the Soviet Union as distinct from being shown around. In 1960 Arthur pioneered left heart catheterisation with Robert Steiner [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web].

In 1962, Arthur became a consultant cardiologist at UCH; his consultant role was expanded to include Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in 1971. Later he became an honorary consultant at Conquest Hospital in Hastings.

In the early 1970s he led, and won, a campaign against a European Economic Community directive that blood pressure should be measured in kilopascals and not in millimetres of mercury. He said he would like to be remembered as the man who saved the mmHG!

A dedicated teacher at UCH, he continued teaching King’s and Brighton students in Hastings until the age of 89. For over two decades he was a source of inspiration to medical students and junior doctors who worked and studied through Conquest Hospital. I first met Arthur as a junior registrar and was inspired by his vast knowledge of cardiology and medicine in general. He lent me a copy of his book on his teacher at UCH, Sir Thomas Lewis [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IV, p.531] (Sir Thomas: pioneer cardiologist and clinical scientist London, Springer, c.1997). He had saved from destruction some of the original ECGs (electrocardiograms) generated by Lewis at the turn of the century and used these to teach ECG to us all. Arthur had a lifelong interest in medical history. He was president of the Osler Club of London in 1983. He wrote his first article at 21 on Sir William Osler [Munk’s Roll, Vol.IV, p.295] (‘Sir William Osler’ UCH Magazine 1944;29;119-128) and his last, on Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, at the age of 90 (‘The Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome: a very long follow-up’ Am J Cardiol 2014 May 15;113(10):1751-2).

Arthur had a great interest in medicinal plants and sat on the advisory committee of the Chelsea Physic Garden as a representative of the Royal College of Physicians for 26 years. He was a livery member of the Society of Apothecaries, to whom he gave the Hans Sloane lecture entitled ‘plants in medicine’. His interest in plants and medicine brought him the fellowship of the Linnean Society in 1985. He was curator of the physic garden at the Barbers’ Company of London.

At the Royal College of Physicians he gave the Fitzpatrick lecture and was the first recipient of the president’s medal. He was secretary of the British Cardiovascular Society from 1974 to 1975 and then served as archivist from 1992 to 2013.

In 1949 he married Catharine née Large, a consultant in community paediatrics. They had four daughters (one, Anne, predeceased him) and eight grandchildren.

In ‘retirement’ he settled back to the family home in Pett near Rye in East Sussex. I visited Arthur at home a few weeks before his death and over lunch gazed through the ECGs and texts he had on cardiology. In particular I remember the photos of his trip to Moscow setting up and mentoring cardiac surgery in the former Soviet Union. He had many other notable achievements, but overall he will be missed as a father and grandfather, colleague and friend.

R T Gerber

[Notes written by Arthur Hollman; Clin Cardiol. 25, 442-3 (2002); The Telegraph 18 September 2014 www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/11106687/Arthur-Hollman-obituary.html – accessed 14 September 2015; BMJ 2014 349 5796 www.bmj.com/content/349/bmj.g5796 – accessed 14 September 2015; The American College of Cardiology 21 August 2014 http://blog.acc.org/post/tribute-arthur-hollman-md-frcp-fls/ – accessed 14 September 2015; British Cardiovascular Society 20 August 2014 www.bcs.com/pages/news_full.asp?NewsID=19792272 – accessed 14 September 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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