David Arthur Conn

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 07 April 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i1962
  1. Alan G Conn,
  2. I Graeme Conn

David Arthur Conn was the son of a general practitioner and a teacher. At the age of 8 he developed exertional chest pain, and his father, Ian (see obituary:, diagnosed aortic stenosis. Cardiac catheterisation in Glasgow revealed a complex aortic root hypoplasia. At the National Heart Hospital, under the care of Jane Sommerville and Donald Ross, David underwent aortoplasty and later, an aortic homograft. A second homograft was required in his late teens when the first graft calcified.

With remarkable strength of character, David turned a childhood of pain and ill health into academic and sporting achievement at Paisley Grammar School and Glasgow University. Always conscious that his life might be short, he approached everything with great vigour, cramming as much as possible into each day.

He initially trained in general practice in Paisley and then moved to a senior house officer post in anaesthesia in Yeovil. It was there that he met Clare, a medical student. They married in 1988. Having decided to pursue a career in anaesthesia, he was a registrar in Glasgow and senior registrar in Newcastle. His interest in regional anaesthesia and pain management took him to Adelaide for a year’s fellowship training.

Appointed as consultant to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital in 1995, he helped develop the pain clinic and became a highly skilled practitioner of regional anaesthesia. He taught, published, and lectured on pain management and regional anaesthesia, co-writing and editing textbooks in both subjects. He was an enthusiastic educator and was a much valued supporter and mentor of junior colleagues.

David was a great golfer. He played in the Scottish boys’ championship and was his club’s junior champion, playing off a single figure handicap. He was an excellent skier and, more recently, a competitive table tennis player and club coach.

David had just returned to work in early 2015, six months after further cardiac surgery, when the symptoms of a cerebral glioblastoma became apparent. During the last 11 months of his life, he was devotedly cared for by Clare and their two children, Rhona and Jamie. He managed a skiing holiday in Austria with his extended family, as well as trips to Spain and Scotland, and he covered many hundreds of miles in his beloved camper van. He continued an active social life with his family and a wide circle of friends, and was, as always, a welcome guest and a generous host.

He leaves his mother and two brothers (both doctors); his wife, Clare (a GP); and their children, Rhona and Jamie.

Consultant anaesthetist Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (b 1959; q Glasgow University 1982; MRCGP, FRCA), died from a cerebral glioblastoma on 15 December 2015.

View Abstract