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Biographical entry Watkins, Kenneth Harold (1903 - 1938)

MRCS 9 February 1928; FRCS 12 June 1930; BSc London 1924; MB BS 1927; MS 1931; MB ChB Manchester 1927.

16 September 1903
Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire
15 September 1938
Genito-urinary surgeon


Born on 16 September 1903 at Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire, the elder of the twin sons of Harold Ernest Watkins, MRCS, LRCP, medical officer of health for Newton-in-Makerfield, Lancs, and his wife, née Smith. He was educated at Oundle School, Northants, at the Manchester University, and at St Thomas's Hospital. Whilst still a student he was awarded the Bradley memorial scholarship in clinical surgery in 1926, and the prize in clinical medicine in the following year. At Manchester he graduated with second-class honours at the MB ChB examination, and at the London University he was placed in the honours list with distinction in medicine and surgery. He then acted as house surgeon at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and, having decided to practice as a genito-urinary surgeon, became house surgeon to the genitourinary department of the Salford Royal Infirmary.

In 1932 he was attached as a Rockefeller Fellow to the Brady Urological Institute at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, and when the Fellowship expired he spent some time in Europe visiting the various urological clinics. At Freiburg he met the lady who afterwards became his wife. Returning to England he acted as resident surgical officer at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and as resident medical officer at the Christie Hospital, whilst at the Northern Hospital and at Crumpsall he organized urological units. He acted, too, as medical officer and registrar at the Radium Institute, where he was able to study the effects of irradiation on growths in the urinary tract. In 1933 he was appointed surgeon for genito-urinary diseases at the Manchester Northern Hospital and urological assistant at the Royal Infirmary, Manchester. In 1934 as Hunterian professor at the Royal College of Surgeons he took "The bladder function in low spinal injury" as the subject of his lecture.

He married Irmgard Herrmann on 21 April 1935, who survived him with a son and a daughter. He was killed on 15 September 1938 whilst being driven in a motor car, which skidded on a slippery road between Neubrandenburg and Neustrelitz, Germany; he was buried at Newton-le-Willows, Lancs. Watkins was a great loss to genito-urinary surgery. He was skilful as an operator, and his contributions to the specialty show him to have been full of ideas, which would have led him far had he lived. He was universally admired, respected, and beloved. He spoke ill of none and none spoke ill of him.

A preliminary note on temperature variations during general anaesthesia, with S R Wilson. Brit J Anaesth 1927, 4, 201.
The clinical value of bladder pressure estimations. Brit J Urol 1934, 6, 104-118. Paralysis of the bladder and associated neurological sequelae of spinal anaesthesia (clauda equina syndrome), with Fergus R Ferguson. Brit J Surg 1938, 25, 735.
An experimental investigation into the cause of paralysis following spinal anaesthesia, with A D Macdonald. Ibid 1938, 25, 879.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Lancet, 1938, 2, 753, with portrait; Brit med J 1938, 2, 685; information from his brother, E Roger Watkins].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England