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Thomas Chapman

Early advocate of the prostatic punch

Thomas Lightbody Chapman was born on 16 June 1903. He graduated in medicine from Glasgow University in 1928, and was a senior house surgeon at the Western Infirmary. He had further training at St Bartholomew's Hospital London, and later became a clinical assistant at St Peter's Hospital for Stone.

On his return to Glasgow, he was appointed to the surgical staff of the Victoria Infirmary, where he formed the urological department. He was also a Consultant to Hairmyres, East Kilbride and Ballochmyle Hospitals. He was one of the founder members of the British Association of Urological Surgeons.

Chapman was a great advocate of the punch prostatectomy. He travelled to America to be taught the technique by Gershom Thompson at the Mayo Clinic. In 1949, Tom Chapman, Henry Stewart, John Swinney and Tom Lane founded the Punch Club. Chapman was its first secretary.

At Hairmyres Hospital, he developed a special unit for punch prostatectomy, ably assisted by a Polish refugee surgeon. He was a good teacher and also trained his registrars to use the punch.  According to Mr Eric Glen, former Consultant at the Southern General Hospital and a trainee with Chapman:

... The teaching aid he used for the punch I think was of his own invention, consisting a rubber dome glued to a Perspex plate, with an artificial prostate at the other end consisting of a mixture of latex and sawdust. Thus he was able to assess the trainee`s ability to resect before letting him loose on a patient - usually took a good many weeks!"

Chapman published an illustrated a book on Urology, “Urology in Outline” which is a well written basic urology textbook. He was a keen photographer and was responsible for producing a training film on punch prostatectomy.

Chapman was said to have been a kindly, enthusiastic man with a wonderful sense of humour and and an easily recognizable laugh. Chapman and Arthur Jacobs used to amuse themselves by leaving inappropriate messages on each others recording machines. He tended to walk his cat on a lead late at night and, on at least one occason, was stopped by the locall police whilst out walking. He was a keen fisherman and had an annual outing to Glendaruel in Argyll, accompanied by his anaesthetic colleagues Dickie Evans or Albert Christie. Eric Glen relates that: 

... another feature [of Chapman’s firm] were the famous ham sandwich lunches pre-theatre on Friday afternoons at Hairmyres. The ham was brought in by Dr. Evans, anaesthetist and a great mound was produced. Mr. Chapman showed great dexterity in palming a highly significant portion - I have to say, they were very good, and vanished with remarkable speed."

Tom Chapman died at his home (Park Lodge, 21 Calderwood Road, Glasgow) on 18 July 1966, aged 63.

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