On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.101 n.2 Cape Town Feb. 2011
Derek Dickson (1926 - 2010)
Derek was born in Pretoria on 14 February 1926. He was educated at Pretoria Boys High, where he matriculated in 1944. After serving in the artillery in 1945, he started his medical training at Wits in 1946, graduating in 1951.
He practised in Vereeniging for a short period and then returned to Wits to specialise in anaesthetics.
In 1958 Derek went to East London and joined Drs Hankins and Haddad in specialist anaesthetic practice. He made his mark in his specialty and continued until 1979, when he moved out of anaesthesia to the South African Blood Transfusion Services where he took over the medical responsibilities.
Derek was dedicated to the Border Blood Transfusion Service, which was his pride and joy. It gave me particular pleasure, with each new intake of interns and medical officers, to invite him to give a talk on the correct and appropriate use of blood products -- a topic on which they were woefully ignorant. He produced, and revised each year, a booklet, a copy of which remained in each department for ready reference: those who did not follow his rules got the length of my tongue. On one occasion Professor Don Jeffries of London University (Head of the Department of Virology), who had a keen interest in blood transfusion, visited East London. I arranged a visit to Derek's unit and laboratory, and the two got on famously. Don remarked to me afterwards that it was one of the finest units he had seen.
In 1999 Derek retired from the South African Blood Transfusion Services, and continued his interest in medicine by running haematology and diabetic sessions at Frere Hospital.
Derek was a quiet man and a little reluctant to tell us stories of his anaesthetic experiences in the early days, when several of us met monthly for lunch. I did, however, as long-time editor of the SAMA Border Branch Newsletter, prevail on him to write down some of the highlights (and terrifying experiences) which had befallen him. He turned in 6 pages, which I published in full and which are now before me as I write. I can only say that he had a gift of drawing one totally into the scene. It is a great pity that he did not record his memoirs.
In 2009 he and Eileen retired to Paarl, where he passed away on 28 September 2010 after a brief illness.
We of ROFS Club miss you deeply, Derek, and send sincere condolences to Eileen and the family.