Lives of the fellows

Paul Mapleston Smith

b.4 May 1936 d.12 December 2014
MB BS Lond(1959) MRCP(1964) MD(1969) FRCP(1978)

Paul Smith was a consultant physician at Llandough Hospital and the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff. He was born in Harrow, the son of Cecil Daniel Smith, a company director, and was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School in Northwood. He studied medicine at St Thomas’s Hospital, London, where he later became a registrar in the department of metabolic diseases.

In 1965 he moved to Southampton, where he met Roger Williams, whose influence undoubtedly initiated and stimulated Paul’s love of hepatology and gastroenterology. During this year he established a number of studies on iron clearance using the whole body counter at the Royal Naval Physiological Laboratory at Alverstoke, Hampshire, before moving to the new liver unit at King’s College Hospital. There, as the institution’s first research fellow, he completed his MD on ‘aspects of haemochromatosis’.

In 1968 he obtained an overseas research fellowship to Boston, USA, for a year, where he worked on foetal bilirubin metabolism with Roger Lester and R M Donaldson.

On his return to the UK he completed his clinical training as a senior registrar at University College Hospital with John Lennard-Jones, J F Stokes [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web] and Lord Max Rosenheim [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VI, p.394] and also weekly clinical sessions at St Mark’s Hospital.

In 1972 Paul moved to Llandough Hospital in Cardiff as a senior lecturer in medicine to the University of Wales College of Medicine. In 1978 he became a consultant in medicine, gastroenterology and hepatology at Llandough Hospital and the University Hospital of Wales, where he remained until his retirement in 2001. During his career he established first class hepatology, endoscopy and GI services for the region. Paul worked very closely with his consultant surgical colleague, Malcolm Wheeler, sharing a ward, which was always full of patients with the most difficult and challenging medical and surgical gastroenterological conditions. This was indeed an early example of a multidisciplinary approach to the management of complex disease. Regular meetings with pathology and radiology colleagues and combined medical/surgical rounds provided great teaching opportunities for undergraduates and postgraduates. This period also produced much fruitful collaborative and basic scientific research. His main clinical research interests were in endoscopic management of bleeding oesophageal varices and the endoscopic therapy of achalasia. In collaboration with staff at a local chemical factory, he was one of the first people to recognise exposure to vinyl chloride monomer as a cause of angiosarcoma of the liver.

Paul worked tirelessly for the British Society of Gastroenterology and was honoured to be appointed their president from 1995 to 1996.

Paul had a lifelong interest in sports, particularly cricket. He was a member of the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club), enjoying many test matches. He also played for many years with the ‘other MCC’ – the Myocardial Cricket Club in Cardiff, where his good humour and banter were enjoyed on many a summer evening! At other times he could be found in his beautiful garden which he tended and developed over the years. Paul was a loyal supporter of the Old Merchant Taylors’ Association and served as their president. He would have been moved to know that their flag was lowered to half mast in his honour on the day of his funeral.

Always gregarious, Paul made many lifelong friendships wherever he went. His infectious laughter could be heard long before he was seen. His latter years were blighted by failing memory and dementia and a series of falls related to cerebellar atrophy, but his gentle spirit remained to the end. He died peacefully from pneumonia and was survived by his wife Ragnheidur (née Olafsdottir), a retired consultant cytopathologist, his daughter Asta and son Karl.

Jill Swift

[Gut 37 (1995):444 – accessed 23 May 2015; BMJ 2015 350 2428 – accessed 23 May 2015]

(Volume XII, page web)

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