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Biographical entry Wilkinson, Andrew Wood (1914 - 1995)

CBE 1979; FRCS ad eundem 1959; MB BCh Edinburgh 1937; ChM 1949; FRCS Edinburgh 1940.

19 April 1914
Taunton, Somerset
18 August 1995
Paediatric surgeon


Andrew Wilkinson was the first Professor of Paediatric Surgery in the UK and as such received honours in many countries. Although his father was of Scottish extraction he was born in Taunton, Somerset, on 19 April 1914. He was educated locally and then at Weymouth College before going up to Edinburgh University, where he graduated with first class honours in 1937. He took a variety of junior surgical posts in Edinburgh, including one at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, and gained the FRCS Edinburgh in 1940.

He joined the RAMC in 1942, took part in the Normandy landings and was then posted to India where he served as lieutenant colonel during the campaign to liberate Burma and Singapore. Returning to Edinburgh, he became first clinical tutor and then lecturer in surgery at the University but in 1953 moved to Aberdeen as senior lecturer and assistant surgeon at both the Royal Infirmary and the Children's Hospital. Here he produced his most important work, subsequently published in his book Body fluids in surgery in 1955.

In 1958 he was appointed Nuffield Professor of Paediatric Surgery at the Institute of Child Health (University of London) and surgeon to the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, where he continued to publish a long series of scientific papers. His line of research, though of fundamental importance, did not attract the tertiary referral practice which was the chief business of the hospital. This was a disappointment to him, while his insistence on tightly restricting the use of intravenous infusions at a time when common opinion was veering in the opposite direction made things difficult for his assistants. He was not always an easy colleague, but despite his combative approach and occasional sharp temper he had many devoted disciples. After serving on the Council of the Edinburgh College for many years he was elected its President in 1976. His contributions received national recognition with the award of the CBE in 1979.

He married Joan Sharp, a talented artist and potter, in Edinburgh in 1941 and by her had two sons, Angus, and Peter who is in family practice in Edinburgh, and two daughters, Jane and Caroline. He retired in 1979 and went to live in a village overlooking the Solway Firth where he enjoyed 'fishing, gardening, cooking and eating'. His activities were sadly curtailed when his sight began to fail and he died on 18 August 1995.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 1996 311 1222].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England