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Biographical entry Spencer, John (1933 - 2002)

MRCS and FRCS 1963; MB BS London 1957; MS 1974.

17 July 1933
22 July 2002
General surgeon and Oesophageal surgeon


John Spencer was a reader in surgery at Hammersmith Hospital, London. He was born in Bedford on 17 July 1933, the son of Arthur George Victor Spencer, a soldier, and Nellie née Housden. He was educated at Bedford Modern School, whence he won a state scholarship to study medicine at Charing Cross Hospital. After junior posts at Harrow, Mount Vernon and the Royal Victoria Hospital, Boscombe, he went to Uganda, to serve in the Mengo district as a general surgeon and forensic medical officer.

On returning to England, he specialised in surgery and in 1962 became a registrar at Bath. He then went to the Royal Postgraduate Medical School at Hammersmith, under Franklin, Welbourne, Bloomgart and Williamson, progressing up the academic ladder, until he was appointed reader. He spent a year at UCLA from 1969 to 1970 under Grossman and Longmire, studying the surgery of highly selective vagotomies.

He became an international authority on oesophageal surgery, a pioneer in laparoscopic techniques, and an expert in the surgical management of radiation enteritis. He was in wide demand as a lecturer overseas, and contributed more than 100 papers and chapters in surgical journals and books.

He married Gwyneth Ann Griffiths, a theatre nurse, in 1958. They had five children, Stephen Mark, Joanne Mary, Helen Clare, Timothy Paul and Anthony John. Stephen became a GP and Anthony is a house officer in Portsmouth. There are 11 grandchildren. Active in his local church, John had many other outside interests, including sailing and flying.

In June 2002, he was found to have extensive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma involving the bowel, for which he underwent laparotomy and was transferred to his old hospital, where he died in the intensive care unit on 22 July 2002.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2002 325 1246].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England