Lavinia Loughridge, a senior lecturer in medicine and an honorary consultant physician at Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School, was an early pioneer in the development of kidney transplantation, but she was first and foremost one of the most outstanding physicians of her generation. A superb teacher and examiner, she was constantly in demand as a second opinion by her colleagues.
Lavinia was from a medical family. Her father, John Carson Loughridge, was a medical practitioner and her elder brother also became a doctor. Her mother, Winifred Elizabeth Loughridge née Wallace, was the daughter of a minister of religion. Lavinia was educated at Victoria College in Belfast and, at the age of 18, had to make the difficult choice between medicine and a career as a concert pianist. She studied at Queen’s University, Belfast, where she won every prize available. After house posts at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, she went to Hammersmith Hospital in 1955 as a house physician. From 1956 to 1957 she was a medical registrar and tutor in the department of medicine at Royal Victoria Hospital, and then returned to Hammersmith Hospital in 1957, also as a medical registrar and tutor in the department of medicine.
In 1961 she was appointed as a lecturer in medicine at Westminster Hospital Medical School (becoming a senior lecturer in 1971), joining Malcolm Milne [Munk’s Roll, Vol. IX, p.367] to set up an academic department of nephrology. She was involved with Sir Roy Calne in the first cadaveric renal donor transplant programme, and was an early adopter of artificial dialysis machines, contributing significantly to the medical literature in these areas. She was active in the medical school, being assistant dean for clinical admissions.
At the Royal College of Physicians she was censor in 1988 and senior vice president between 1993 and 1995, only the second woman to hold this post.
While I am sure Lavinia would wish to be remembered as the superb diagnostician she was, it is also true that she provided a role model for women entering medicine. She was the only female consultant at Westminster hospital and had to gain entry to the exclusive ‘men only’ consultant’s dining room by eating sandwiches outside the door.
She always worked full time, being on-call continuously for renal patients at Westminster Hospital for many years. She carefully prepared her student tutorials, and she was endlessly patient and helpful to junior consultants like myself. Although she had a rather formal manner, she had a wonderful twinkle in her eye, and students and patients alike admired her greatly.
She married Christopher Booth [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web] in 1959 and they had two children, Juliet and Jonathan, whom she brought up single-handedly. In 1989 she married her second husband, the American John Bunker [Munk’s Roll, Vol.XII, web], a pioneer in the development of evidence-based medicine. They had 23 very happy years together. Following her retirement in 1995, she watched with pride the success of her two children and the arrival of grandchildren. She played tennis well into her seventies, and took up the piano again, practising for many hours each day.
She died after a long illness and was survived by her two children.
[The Times 27 May 2014; BMJ 2014 348 3704]