Lives of the fellows

Krishna Murari Goel

b.4 September 1936 d.12 August 2018
BSc Lucknow(1955) MB BS(1960) DCH(1962) MD(1964) MRCP Edin(1970) FRCP Glasg(1978) FRCP Edin(1980) FRCP(1983) Hon FRCPCH

Krishna Goel was a consultant paediatrician at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Yorkhill, Glasgow. He was born in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, northern India. His father, Brij Mohan Lal, was a headmaster and both his parents sacrificed everything to give their five children a good education and to bring them up to be hardworking and disciplined and to care for others – qualities which stood Goel in good stead for all that he would attempt in the future.

While studying medicine in Lucknow, one of his reference books was Practical paediatric problems (London, Lloyd-Luke, 1964) by James Holmes Hutchison [Munk’s Roll, Vol.VIII, p.239] and, as he thought about his future, he considered that the writer of such a book must work in a place of worth. He subsequently decided to apply to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, was accepted and arrived in Glasgow with only a few pounds in his pocket to work as a registrar. His first and abiding memory of ‘Yorkhill’ was the kindness shown by the medical superintendent, Hugh Park, who sent a taxi for him when he arrived at the airport and gave him an advance of his month’s salary. He also deeply appreciated being able to treat every child according to their need, not according to their income.

Joyce McMillan (who later became his wife) remembers the respect he quickly gained from nursing and medical staff, not only for his excellent ability to investigate and diagnose, but also for the care he showed for each child – often shown at the end of his list of treatments as ‘TLC’ (tender loving care required).

He subsequently spent much time writing, not only articles for the BMJ and The Lancet, but also playing a major role in the publication of Children’s medicine and surgery (London, Arnold, 1996) and a new edition of Practical paediatric problems.

At Yorkhill he developed a world-class rheumatology service for the west of Scotland. A huge amount of work was undertaken to collect information on the causes of rickets in Asian children. His report Nutrition survey of immigrant children in Glasgow was published by the Scottish Home and Health Department (as Scottish Health Service Studies no.40) in 1979. The report was very detailed and he went on to produce booklets and a film (‘In place of the sun’) outlining the importance of vitamin D.

Throughout these years, he became increasingly aware that children with life threatening diseases often needed more support than was possible at that time in the hospital. He spent much of his spare time trying to find out what was possible, including visiting children’s hospices in England to find out how they operated. He also singlehandedly set about meeting people whom he believed would help him start a hospice and found many who were willing to support him, including a large number of paediatric consultants in the west of Scotland. He invited trustees to form the West of Scotland Children’s Hospice, but after a short time it was decided to ask half of these trustees to stand down and allow the same number from Edinburgh to take their place and rename the charity Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS). Three centres were set up over the years – one in the west, one in the east and a community-based service in the north of Scotland.

During these years, the friendship between Goel and Joyce blossomed and they realised there were three areas in which they both thrived – their love of children, their love of creation, especially gardens and gardening, and a deep religious faith. In 1990 Goel made the decision after many years of careful thought to choose the Christian faith, despite his great love and respect for his parents who were devout Hindus. This then led to his marriage to Joyce, already a committed Christian, in 1992 and subsequently to buying Eredine House, where they ran a conference centre for people of all faiths or none – people who wanted a rest in a quiet, beautiful place. Eredine, overlooking Loch Awe, Argyll and set within 36 acres, accommodated 24 people, with two self-catering cottages.

After 10 years, it was necessary to retire from the work at Eredine and live at Balloch, but after a short rest Goel chose to return to India to Vellore Christian Medical College, where he set up a rheumatology clinic and contributed to a new neo-natal unit, using money from the sale of Eredine.

He finally and fully retired to Helensburgh, where he continued to live out his Christian faith, caring for others and always willing to help. He subsequently became known to many people. He died peacefully at Lorn and Islands Hospital in Oban with his wife by his side. The local paper stated how much he would be missed by the community, and a huge number of cards were sent in his memory, with senders recounting the lasting impact he had had on their lives.

Joyce Goel

[Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter 10 September 2018 – accessed 7 March 2019; The Helensburgh Advertiser 12 September 2018 – accessed 7 March 2019; The Herald 31 October 2018 – accessed 7 March 2019; The Herald 2 February 2019 – accessed 7 March 2019; BMJ 2018 363 4587 – accessed 7 March 2019]

(Volume XII, page web)

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