David John McBrien was a consultant physician at Worthing and Southlands hospitals. He was born in Nainital, India, the son of Charles Hugh McBrien, of the Indian Civil Service, and Adeline née Egmont Hake, the daughter of Alfred Egmont Hake, an author. He was educated at the Oratory School and then at Ealing Priory.
In 1940 he joined the RAF. He flew Spitfires and other single-seater aircraft in Britain, and was eventually posted to Burma and the Far East. He was mentioned in despatches and gained the DFC (the Distinguished Flying Cross).
Following demobilisation in 1946, he began studying medicine at St Thomas’. He qualified in 1952 with several medals. He went on to junior posts at St Thomas’ – as a casualty officer, house physician on the medical unit, and senior house officer. In 1954 he became a medical registrar in the cardiac clinic. From 1956 to 1963 he was a senior medical registrar and then a resident assistant physician. In 1963 he was appointed as a consultant physician in general medicine at Worthing, a post he held until his retirement in 1988. Following his retirement, Worthing Hospital established an annual McBrien Lecture in his honour.
He was recognised as a superb teacher and clinician. He wrote papers on pulmonary embolism, scleroderma, myxoedema and heart failure, and congenital fibrinopenia, among other subjects. He described what became known in Worthing and St Thomas’ as ‘McBrien’s sign’ – a brachioradial delay as a sign of significant stenosis.
In 1950 he married Hilary Dilnot, the daughter of a journalist. They had a son and two daughters.
[Brit.med.J.,2002 325 341]