Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Christmas 2016: In Love and War

68 years—a record breaking thoracoplasty?

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 09 December 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6513
  1. Eddie Spiegelhalter

I first coughed up blood in 1945 when I was working as a 22 year old sanitary inspector in the RAF in southern Italy, and I feared tuberculosis as I had just seen a colour film featuring Chopin coughing blood on his keyboard. I was examined, x rayed, and told was all clear. But they missed the high cavity in my lung, and in April 1946, when just about to take up a dream post as hygiene inspector for the whole of RAF Middle East Command, I collapsed in Heliopolis transit camp producing cupfuls of blood. “Hello,” I thought, “something is wrong,” and, thanks to tuberculosis, that was the end of my RAF career.

Eddie Spiegelhalter in 1945

I was taken by hospital train to the British Military Hospital in Jerusalem, where they tried an artificial pneumothorax, which didn’t …

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