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Observations BMJ Confidential

Chris Rudge: A life in transplantation

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 15 June 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i3296


Chris Rudge, 67, is chair of the UK Donation Ethics Committee, which recently learnt that its funding from the Department of Health will be terminated. He is a transplant surgeon, having held posts at Guy’s and St Peter’s hospitals, and from 1994 to 2001 he was director of transplantation at the Royal London. He became medical director of UK Transplant in 2001 and national clinical director for transplantation in 2008. He warns that, without the clear ethical framework of the ethics committee, progress in organ donation may suffer—including when families decline organ donation in contradiction of a donor’s known wishes. A discussion paper on this will be among the committee’s final acts. Rudge retired from the NHS in 2011.

What was your earliest ambition?

To do medical research. No one in my family knew anything about it, so my eccentric mother rang the Medical Research Council for advice when I was about 13 and was told (possibly by the receptionist) that it may help to be a doctor. So I applied to Guy’s Hospital Medical School and qualified in 1972.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?

It probably started with Christiaan Barnard and the heart transplant he performed in 1967—I subsequently came to know him in Cape Town in …

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