Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Thompson, Noel (1914 - 1989)

MRCS and FRCS 1954; LDS Durham 1936; BDS 1940; MB BS Durham 1950; MS Newcastle 1971.

8 September 1914
2 July 1989
Oral surgeon and Plastic surgeon


Noel Thompson was born at Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 8 September 1914. His father was John G Thompson, a school teacher, and he was educated at King's College, Newcastle, before qualifying as a licentiate in dental surgery in 1936. He remained in hospital practice and passed his BDS degree in 1940. During the later years of the war, he served in the Royal Army Dental Corps as a specialist oral surgeon to the maxillo-facial unit of South East Asia Command with the rank of Major. After demobilisation he entered Durham Medical School, becoming Stephen Scott scholar in anatomy and qualifying in 1950. He passed the FRCS four years later and worked in plastic and reconstructive surgery under Professor TP Kilner at Oxford and Wilfred Hynes at Sheffield.

In 1959 he was appointed consultant plastic surgeon at Stoke Mandeville but took six months off to work in the United States with Lyndon Peer, having won first prize in the essay competition of the Education Foundation of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. At that time he developed an interest in tissue transplantation and the free grafting of muscle which he developed at Stoke Mandeville and later at the Middlesex and Mount Vernon Hospitals, to which he was appointed in 1963. His great interest was academic research and he introduced the buried dermis flap for the treatment of lymphoedema. He served as a member of the working party on endolymphatic therapy of malignant melanoma and received a research grant from the Medical Research Council to continue this study. He carried out further experimental study on the fate of onlay bone grafts and the importance of including periosteum in the graft as well as establishing a new technique of reanimating the paralysed face using a free graft of skeletal muscle. He was elected Hunterian Professor giving a lecture entitled Autogenous free transplantation of skeletal muscle and was Visiting Professor of Plastic Surgery at Winnipeg in 1971 and New York in 1973.

He retired in 1979 and went to live in Tuscany where he developed an interest in Florentine art in addition to his earlier pastimes of fell walking, swimming and photography. In 1956 he married Dr Christine Fairclough MB, BS and there was one daughter and two sons of the marriage. He died on 2 July 1989 aged 74.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1989, 299, 386 with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England