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Obituary: Richard Turner-Warwick CBE (1925-2020)

The death was announced recently of Richard Turner-Warwick, RSM Honorary Fellow and luminary of the RSM’s Section of Urology.

Born in 1925, Richard Turner-Warwick was educated at Bedales School, at Oxford University and then at The Middlesex Hospital Medical School in London. At Oxford he took an honours degree in Natural Science and his MSc thesis was on Neuroanatomy.

Richard Turner-Warwick CBE (1925-2020)

During his pre-clinical training at The Middlesex Hospital he was awarded the Senior Broderip Scholarship as well as a number of other Medals and Prizes – qualifying in 1949. From 1949 until 1960, he had an unusually extensive specialist training in internal medicine and pathology – and then in abdominal, thoracic, gynaecological, and plastic surgery. He trained in urological surgery with Sir Eric Riches and with Sir David Innes Williams at the Institute of Urology in London.

He obtained his FRCS in 1954, his MRCP in 1955, his Oxford Doctorate of Medicine in 1957 and his Oxford Mastership of Surgery in 1962. He was able to visit many urological centres in America – becoming a Senior Resident in Urology at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Centre in New York and was appointed a Consultant General Surgeon to The Middlesex Hospital in 1960. He took over the lead of Urological Department there when Sir Eric Riches retired in 1963. He created a pioneering urodynamic unit as an integral part of his routine clinical service – synchronously combining video-cysto-urethrography with measurement of pressure and flow voiding dynamics.

From 1975 he focused almost exclusively on functional urological reconstruction – he was additionally appointed to the staff of St Peter’s Urological Hospitals in London and also an Honorary Visiting Urological Surgeon to the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney in 1978 where he operated for three weeks each year until 1987. His main interest and reputation at that time was in reconstruction of the male urethra.

He was elected a Hunterian Professor of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1977, later serving on the Council of this and also that of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG). He was President of the British Association of Urological Surgeons from 1982 to 1984 and a great supporter of the RSM Section of Urology. Among his many distinctions he was awarded the Victor Bonney prize of the RCOG in 1987, the Spence Medal of the American Association of Genito-Urinary Surgeons in 1997, and the William Didusch award for medical art in 2002.

Richard Turner-Warwick was made an Honorary Fellow of the RSM in 2003, joining his wife Margaret Turner-Warwick, the first woman to be elected president of the Royal College of Physicians. They are the only husband and wife who have both been made RSM Honorary Fellows.

Richard Turner-Warwick was not only an exceptionally brilliant technical surgeon and innovator, but also a gifted teacher. Although eccentric in many charming ways, he attracted a loyal following of devoted former trainees and other admirers, many of whom travelled from far afield for his 90th birthday celebrations at the Royal College of Surgeons in Glasgow. One of Richard’s favourite phrases was “things don’t just happen, things have to be made to happen”, Richard’s own well-lived life personified that saying.

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