Lives of the fellows

David Henry Hamilton Pullon

b.16 November 1923 d.7 June 2009
MB ChB New Zealand(1947) DCH(1952) MRCP Edin(1953) MRACP(1955) MRCP(1958) FRACP(1971) FRCP Edin(1972) FRCP(1989)

David Henry Hamilton Pullon, paediatrician, died at his home in Hamilton, New Zealand on 7 June 2009, aged 85.

David was born on November 16 1923 in Christchurch. He was the elder son of Dr Edwin and Mrs Jean Pullon. He was educated at Medbury Preparatory School, Christ’s College, and then Otago University, graduating MB ChB in 1947.

After 3 years in posts at Christchurch Hospital, he was appointed House Physician at Edgware General Hospital, Middlesex, London. There he gained the Diploma in Child Health in 1952, and FRCP (Edinburgh) in 1953. Whilst a medical Registrar at St Mary’s Hospital Paddington, London, he had to return to NZ, after his father died suddenly in mid 1953.

Back in Christchurch, David completed the MRACP in 1955. He decided to return to Britain, where he became a House Physician at The Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond St, London. In 1958 he gained his MRCP (London).

Shortly afterwards he returned to New Zealand and in 1960 was appointed as the second specialist Paediatrician at the Waikato Hospital, in Hamilton. Over the subsequent 28 years he was very involved with the development of the Paediatric Department, right through until his retirement in late 1988. In 1969/1970 David took a considerable part in establishing and raising funds for the Waikato Mothercraft Unit. He also worked for the Dept of Health, the IHC Society, and in private practice.

David wrote about toxoplasmosis, and then with others about amoebic meningoencephalitis, of which he had a number of cases in his area. He was elected FRACP in 1971 and FRCP (Edinburgh) in 1972. He was the first to describe cases of Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome in New Zealand.

David also had a number of cases of phenylketonuria and homocystinuria. After publishing papers on these, he was invited by Professor Bob Guthrie to be an international guest speaker on homocystinuria at Heidelberg, in Germany in 1978. With the support of Professor Guthrie, David worked with Professor Arthur Veale to establish the New Zealand national screening programme, using the heel-prick samples collected from all newborns onto the Guthrie card.

David served on the Waikato Medical Research Committee from 1973 to 1988. He was a strong supporter of the Waikato Postgraduate Medical Society. He chaired the Waikato Hospital Pharmacy Committee from 1975 to 1988, and represented the NZMA on the Pharmacology and Therapeutics Advisory Committee reporting to the Minister of Health from 1985 to 1988. In 1988 he was elected Honorary Life Member of the Paediatric Society of New Zealand, and in 1989 was elected FRCP (London). In his retirement he regularly attended the Waikato Hospital Grand Round, where he was renowned for often having a difficult question prepared.

Outside of medicine, David was a middle distance runner in his youth, breaking several school records whilst at Christ’s College. He skied for the University of Otago, and became an adept trout fisherman. In his retirement he wrote A Hamilton Pedigree and The Hamilton Diaries about his mother’s family. In 1994 he also wrote Pullon Kinsfolk describing his father’s family. His interest in natural history led to his membership of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

David married Margaret Weir Hanna of the Upper Murray district of Australia in 1953. He is survived by her, a daughter, two sons, and six grandchildren. His daughter, Susan, and son, Humphrey, followed him into medicine.

D H H Pullon

[Reproduced from NZMJ 24 July 2009, Vol 122 No 1299 p 82 with permission. This obituary was largely self-written. Reproduced, with permission, from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ College Roll]

(Volume XII, page web)

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