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Biographical entry Tanner, Adrian Glen (1948 - 1995)

MRCS 1973; FRCS 1979; MB BS London 1974.

24 July 1948
26 March 1995
General surgeon


Born on 24 July 1948 in London, Tanner was the son of Norman Tanner FRCS (qv Lives 1974-82, 385-6) and his wife Evelyn Winifred Glennie, an anaesthetist. He was educated at University College School, where he was a choral scholar, and St Thomas's Hospital Medical School. Inspired by his father, he was set on a career in surgery and gained his FRCS in 1979, followed by several registrarships. However, at a time of surplus trainees, senior registrar posts were few and he was never appointed an accredited senior registrar. Yet in 1990 at St Mary's, London, there was a need for somebody to take on responsibility for surgery in patients positive for HIV. Where many surgeons saw considerable personal risk and 'difficult' patients Adrian saw clinical need and a fascinating new area of surgery to explore. Humility and compassion for his patients, combined with wide surgical experience and laparoscopic competence, made him uniquely fitted for this task. Lecturing and publishing widely, Adrian rapidly built up the largest practice in HIV surgery in the UK.

Outside surgery his chief interest was in rowing. An outstanding athlete, he sat his 'O' and 'A' levels from Henley town hall while competing in the regatta. In later life he ran or cycled to and from work every day. He took part in every London marathon, and ran the 1990 race accompanied by the family dog!

He married Dr Jane Woyka, a general practitioner, in 1985 and their sons Rufus and Ruaridh were aged 9 and 2 respectively when he died. He was a devout Christian and this, plus the support of his family, helped him to cope with th eillness that caused his untimely death. In 1993 while running to work he collided with a lamp-post and suffered a moderately severe head injury. An astrocytoma was found later, and he died on 26 March 1995, survived by his wife and two sons. In a moving article in the British Medical Journal (1995, 311, 1687) his wife described how the family coped with caring for him at home until his death.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1995 311 803; The Independent April 1995; Information from Dr J Woyka, Mrs Adrian Tanner].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England