67 years on the national healthBMJ 1999; 318 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7182.511 (Published 20 February 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:511
- J M B Hughes, professor emeritus of thoracic medicine
- Hammersmith Hospital, London
She was aged 70 when I took her over in outpatients; Irish, cheerful, overweight, cyanosed; larger than life. She had always lived in Hammersmith. She regarded the outpatient clinic as her second home, and the doctors, nurses, and health visitors as her extended family. Not surprising really, since she had attended hospitals, clinics, and dispensaries for 55 years since she developed pulmonary tuberculosis at the age of 15.
Why do I remember her? Firstly, for her remarkable medical history. Her pulmonary tuberculosis smouldered on in spite of collapse treatment for 10 years until she had a three stage left lung thoracoplasty in 1941. She was pronounced cured [“denotified”] in 1945. After living for 31 years with one functioning lung, and smoking, she was admitted to the Hammersmith in 1972 in cor pulmonale. When I saw her 15 years later …