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Biographical entry Shepherd, Mary Patricia (1933 - 2003)

MRCS 1957; FRCS 1964; MB BS London 1957; MS 1972; FRCS Edinburgh 1960.

4 July 1933
London, UK
20 October 2003
Thoracic surgeon


Mary Shepherd was a former consultant thoracic surgeon at Harefield Hospital, Middlesex. She was born at Forest Hill, London, on 4 July 1933, the youngest of the two children of George Raymond Shepherd, an electrical and mechanical engineer, and Florence May Savile, whose father and grandfather had been general practitioners in Harrogate. She spent a year in school in Maryland when her father’s professional work took the family there, and this experience gave her a lifelong interest in the United States, to which she frequently travelled throughout her life. In 1946 she won a scholarship to James Allen’s Girls School, did well there, and had no difficulty gaining a place at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, where she again won several prizes, notably in surgery, which was always her first interest, and she qualified in 1957.

After house jobs and a registrar appointment in surgery at the Royal Free, and passing her Edinburgh fellowship, she became a registrar at Harefield Hospital, where she spent the rest of her professional life, becoming a senior registrar and then consultant. She enjoyed a valuable year at the Toronto Children’s Hospital from 1966 to 1967, where she worked with Mustard, becoming a joint author of papers on membrane oxygenation and the diaphragmatic pedicle graft, later the subject of a Hunterian Professorship (1969) and her thesis for the MS London. Her professional contributions were considerable, with the publication of many papers, of which that on plombage (Thorax 1985) is perhaps the most influential.

She maintained a characteristic style, with her striking appearance in theatre garb, her white Jaguar, and occasional performances on the piano accordion at social events. Her wide interests were exemplified by her service on the board of visitors at Wormwood Scrubs prison, and her decision to retire at 52. She had a home in Southwold, where she had always spent much of her free time through a lifelong friendship. Thereafter she divided her time between Suffolk and Cape Cod, United States, pursuing her interest in antiques. Her active life was ended when she developed cancer of the thyroid, with which she coped with characteristic fortitude. She died on 20 October 2003.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2003 327 1351, with portrait; information from John Hopewell.].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England