Former consultant urological surgeon Birmingham (b Coventry 28 October 1919; q Birmingham 1943; FRCS), died from heart failure on 6 December 2008.
Paul Dawson-Edwards was educated at King Henry VIII School, Coventry, and Birmingham Medical School, qualifying MB ChB in 1943. He married his wife, Jean (a nurse), in 1944. He was resident surgical registrar at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QE) from 1944 to 1946, during which time he was called up to the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR). After spending some months stationed in Northallerton, he was appointed squadron leader and sent to the RAF General Hospital in Karachi, specialising in orthopaedics.
In 1948 he spent a year as demonstrator in the anatomy department of the Medical School and then returned as a surgical registrar to the QE. He gained his FRCS in 1951 and became senior surgical registrar in 1953. In 1957 he was appointed consultant surgeon to the United Birmingham Hospitals. Before taking up his post he spent nine months in the United States as assistant in surgery at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston and research fellow at Harvard University. He specialised in transplantation surgery, working with Hartwell Harrison and Francis Moore (“the electrolyte king”). On his return to the QE he worked initially with Hugh Donovan and Guy Baines in urology.
After this the Artificial Kidney Unit was formed and by 1962 a minicoil artificial kidney had been developed with Denys Blainey. By the end of 1967 permission was given to start a renal transplantation programme, the first operation being performed in May 1968.
After some years associated with dialysis and transplantation and having survived the occupational hazard of the time, hepatitis, he returned to full time urology, where in particular he had a large personal series in retroperitoneal fibrosis, in those days treated by open surgery. He was an active member of the British Association of Urological Surgeons and the Urological Club of Great Britain and Ireland and a founder member of the Midlands Urological Club.
He was an excellent teacher, viewing it as an essential and enjoyable part of his job. He was technically a fine surgeon whose advice was sought by others in difficult situations. He didn’t suffer fools gladly and was a hard task master but considered those with whom he worked a team. His friends regarded him as intensely loyal, and he would defend and support them without giving thought to the effect this action may have on him. He and Jean were well known for their regular “firm” parties, at one of which he told his students that medical students nowadays were more staid than those of his day. He woke to find the entrance to his drive bricked up!
Sport and cars (his father had at one time been an engineer with the Alvis racing team) played an important part in his life. He represented the university in both rugby and athletics and he played 1st XV rugby for both Coventry and Moseley clubs. He later took up squash, sailing, and mountain walking and continued until his knees gave up. The love of mountain walking inspired him to set up the Vacancy Club—a group of registrars arranged at least one trip a year, persuading their consultant bosses to climb one of Snowdonia’s peaks in the hope that they might succumb and create a job! He was a formidable mixed-hockey player, always enjoying the traditional Boxing Day match against the General Hospital.
He retired in 1984 and was then able to spend more time at his cottage in North Wales.
His wife, Jean, predeceased him in January 2002. He leaves three children and four grandchildren.