Intended for healthcare professionals


Hugh Alexander Fleming

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 07 December 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:1223
  1. Michael Petch

    Founder of East Anglian Cardiac Unit at Papworth Hospital and expert on sarcoid heart disease

    Hugh Fleming was a clinical cardiologist whose professional life was devoted to the care of patients. He was of a scientific bent and the emerging field of modern cardiology provided the ideal setting for his work with the accurate assessment of the physical problems combined with human care. He was the founder of the East Anglian Regional Cardiac Unit at Papworth Hospital and a world authority on sarcoid heart disease.

    He was born in Glasgow. At the age of 1 his parents migrated to New Zealand, where his father eventually established a small importing business. The family settled in New Plymouth, where he was brought up in strict Scottish Presbyterian tradition. He was educated at state schools and the New Plymouth Boys' High School, where he won a New Zealand University National Scholarship that enabled him to go to medical school in Dunedin. For five years he lived in Knox College, being, in his final year president of the students' association. This experience of community life was the happiest of times. He took up cross-country running with fair success and represented the university. Later in life he resumed running for relaxation after work, continuing to run for exercise and for pleasure well into his 60s. He was at university during the second world war and spent all vacations working in essential industries or in the army. Such work was also necessary for the earnings to supplement his scholarship. He chose jobs for interest and variety; they ranged widely from dairy farming to scheelite mining. The latter was in a remote area beyond Glenorchy in the South Island, and the love of those mountains remained with him all his life. His first hand knowledge of various …

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