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Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866) English Physician


Hodgkin's Disease or Lymphoma is a malignant growth of cells in the lymph system that occurs in children and adults. It is diagnosed by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells, a cell specific to the disease. These cells are of B-cell lymphocyte origin, and overproduction of Interleukin-13 is related. The Epstein-Barr virus also appears to be a factor in 50% of cases. The disease was first described by Malpighi in 1666 although Hodgkins documented the first cases in 1832. Samuel Wilks described the disease in a paper in 1865 and attributed Hodgkin with its discovery.

Thomas Hodgkin was born in Tottenham in 1798, the same year that John Cheyne (Cheyne-Stokes Breathing) was busy fighting the United Irishmen in the battle of Vinegar Hill. Like Cheyne, he graduated from Edinburgh University, obtaining his medical degree in 1823. He then moved back to London, becoming curator of the Pathology Museum at Guy's Hospital in 1825. He is recognized with introducing the first stethoscope to Guy's and probably England, having worked with Laennec as a medical student in Paris some years earlier.

The 1820's was really a fascinating time to be present at Guy's because many famous doctors such as T. Addison (Addison's Disease), R. Bright (Bright's Disease) and BG Babington (Babington's Disease) were working there at the time. Hodgkin was a dedicated Quaker who led a life dedicated to the betterment of those around him.

His religious fervor ran deep and his liberal attitudes were interested in everything he did. He was the founder member of the Aborigine Society in the period that American Congress passed the Indian Removal Act and forced the Ester tribes west of the Mississippi River.

He applied for the post of Assistant Physician in Guy's in 1834 but resigned after it was given to Babington (Babington's Disease). It is widely rumored that the treasure of the hospital allegedly said, "I'll be damned if we give the job to a fellow who has been seen in the company of a North American Indian".

Hodgkin's resignation caused furore, particularly among his former students as he was deeply obliged to medical education and had developed the medical school at Guy's to great prominence. He was also known as the first person to describe aortic insufficiency. There were more subtle reasons why Babington was favored to the position and I will deal with them in another issue. Hodgkins became a notable humanitarian after his resignation and apparently he often offended people by not charging for his medical services.

He remained in medical practice at St. Petersburg. Thomas's for a while but increasingly traveling around the world with his old friend Sir Moses Montefiore, the towering giant of 19th century world Jewry. Sir Moses, an interesting figure started out as an apprentice to a firm of wholesale grocers and eventually became one of the wealthiest brokers in London. His marriage to a Rothschild of course did not hurt.

By 1824, he was wealthy enough to retire from business and he spent the rest of his life involved in philanthropic projects. He fell in love with the Land of Israel, which he visited seven times. In 1866 he convinced Thomas Hodgkins to accompany him on a tour of the country. While they were in Jaffa, Hodgkins developed profuse cramps and diarrhea and contracted what appeared to be shigellosis, or bacillary dysentery.

It was the period before intravenous rehydration and unfortunately he became dehyrated and died there. His grave can still be seen if you visit Jaffa. In that same year the American Congress formed two black regiments the 9th and 10th cavalries with specific orders to go West and fight his beloved Indians. The Indians nicknamed them the Buffalo Soldiers.

Who am I?

English Physician born in Bristol in 1789 and studied medicine in Edinburgh. He was Assistant Physician in Guy's from 1820 to 1824. He traveled extensively and wrote many travel books. He gave his name to a disease associated with chronic nephritis.

R. Bright

Source by Patrick Treacy

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