John Gordon Uvedale Okeden AlexanderBMJ 2005; 330 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.330.7485.258 (Published 27 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:258
John Gordon Uvedale Okeden AlexanderFormer consultant microbiologist Hull and East Riding hospitals (b Caterham, Surrey, 1918; q Middlesex Hospital 1942; FRCPath), d 29 September 2004.
Gordon lived in Ceylon for part of his childhood. He took conjoint early to join the army, where he worked in Italy and north Africa. He taught himself to speak Italian fluently so he could provide a medical service to the local population. He later moved to Liverpool to become a pathology registrar, where he met my mother "over a heart," a case of mitral stenosis in one of Professor Davey’s Saturday morning tutorials.
After being appointed consultant pathologist in the Hull area at the age of 32 years, he designed and built the first virology laboratory in the area, at Castle Hill Hospital, with the aid of his senior technician, Jack Teal. He then became interested in the methodology of assessing antibody titres; in the late 1960s he developed a miniaturising technique of the serological testing of viral antibody titres (Journal of Clinical Pathology 1969;22:505), which is now common practice.
He had several other publications relating to the diagnosis of enterovirus infections (Journal of Infection 1982;4:265-7) and described a new salmonella species isolated in a baby. In 1952 he described a transport medium for use in gynaecological swabs and had several articles published on the treatment of thrush of the bowel and treatment of diarrhoea by Lactobacillus acidophilus and casei preparations (Current Medicine and Drugs 1967;8:3 and Lancet 1975;2:1264). When I worked in Hull, I was given the impression that viruses were as easy to isolate as bacteria, but found when I worked at other hospitals that this did not occur.
My mother was a singlehanded GP for many years and my father helped her with night calls on several occasions, one being a second confinement. The following morning when he visited the baby that he had helped deliver, his experience in the blood transfusion service enabled him to recognise jaundice due to the rare antibody A syndrome. He took the baby to the laboratory in his car, performed an exchange transfusion, and took the baby home again, unaware that the father was a reporter for the Daily Mail. This of course made headline news.
He was always interested in sport, skiing for the British Universities Ski Team as a student, as well as being a keen swimmer, cricketer, and golfer. On several occasions my father had to be "traced" on the golf course at weekends, when a junior doctor had a problem, as he was the only microbiologist in the area.
He leaves a wife, June, still a practising GP; three children; and four grandchildren. [Rosemary Alexander]
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