There wouldn't be many people around who knew the operational CRCMH
without having encountered and/or admired the work and legacy of Professor
Eric Bywaters. A short run-down on the life and achievements of Prof.
Bywaters (and his CRCMH protégé Dr Barbara Ansell CBE) will be appearing
on The Shrine soon. But for now, we present the rare opportunity
to view and enjoy this rather stunning self-portrait sketch, penned
for one of his patients as an autograph in 1957. And yes - the patient
in question assures us that Bywaters did look just like he
"The Happy Professor"
are indebted to our friend John Ramanachala for his permission to
share this lovely artefact with you all.
Below is our
cached reproduction of Prof. Bywaters' obituary as it appeared in
the British Medical Journal, penned by Allan Dixon. To see the document
in its original location on the BMJ website, go HERE.
George Lapthorne Bywaters
who discovered the cause of fatal kidney failure in victims of the
Eric George Lapthorne
Bywaters, former consultant rheumatologist and professor of rheumatology
the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital (b 1910;
q Middlesex Hospital Medical School 1933; FRCP, CBE), d 2 April 2003.
Eric George Lapthorne
Bywaters played an important role in the rise of modern rheumatology
as part of general medicine. After qualifying with a gold medal and
honours in pathology, he worked at the Courtauld Institute of Pathology
on the metabolism of articular cartilage. In 1937 he was invited to
the Massachusetts General Hospital, where he studied patients with
systemic lupus erythematosus, returning to the Hammersmith Hospital
in 1939 and taking on the rheumatism clinic.
During the bombing
of London he studied the "crush syndrome" in people whose
limbs had been trapped by falling masonry and who were released by
the rescue services only to die later from kidney failure. This work
was later transferred to a Medical Research Council unit at the Royal
Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne. The cause, Bywaters
found, was release of the protein myoglobin into the circulation from
crushed muscles. This blocked the tiny ducts in the kidneys, preventing
urine and waste products from being filtered from the blood. He used
animal models to show that alkaline fluids by mouth or intravenously
protected the kidney and kept the patient alive until the blocked
renal tubules healed. He was the first to introduce the Kolff artificial
kidney in the United Kingdom.
In 1947 he took
on the additional appointment of director of the special unit for
juvenile rheumatism at the Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital at
Taplow. There he established a world renowned centre for rheumatic
fever and later, when rheumatic fever was conquered, for children
and adults with chronic forms of arthritis.
He received numerous
international honours and was a renowned teacher. At least 349 doctors
trained with him as junior doctors and research fellows, many from
abroad, creating a medical diaspora of international significance.
He was an acknowledged expert on the pathology of rheumatic and bone
diseases, and when some of his patients left him their bodies for
research, he said that he "uncovered a wealth of material left
behind on the autopsy table and disregarded by conventional pathologists."
An ardent collector
of historical books and material related to rheumatism, he was for
20 years honorary Heberden librarian at the Royal College of Physicians.
He was a talented portrait artist and caricaturist; a self portrait
sketched for one of his patients in 1957 can be seen online at the
Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital Shrine. He was also a
keen gardener. A prized tree in his garden had grown from a seed that
he collected from the plane tree on Cos under which Hippocrates, the
father of medicine, is said have taught.
his wife, Betty, in 1998, he leaves three daughters and four grandchildren.
A memorial service
was held on 5 July 2003 at 11 am at the Royal Society of Medicine,