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J R Soc Med. 2001 October; 94(10): 553.
PMCID: PMC1282229


With reference to Dr Aronson's memoir on leeches in Philadelphia (July JRSM, p. 372), may I stake a claim to be the last hospital physician to use leeches in Britain? In late 1950 I was a houseman at Mount Vernon Hospital Northwood when Dr C E Lakin instructed me to apply leeches to relieve a cardiac patient's congested liver. Fortunately the elderly ward sister remembered the technique. The pathology department supplied the leeches, and we introduced five of the beasts through holes in a pad of lint, in a row just below the costal margin. They browsed harmlessly and with great enthusiasm, presumably in the subcutaneous tissue and not in the liver. The patient felt better but his poor condition was unchanged.

Charlie Lakin, born in 1878, was a famous pathologist, physician and teacher at the Middlesex Hospital. During and after the Second World War he served as a physician at Mount Vernon which was a sector hospital of the Middlesex.

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