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BMJ. 2007 August 25; 335(7616): 405.
PMCID: PMC1952480

Nicholas John Unsworth

Before training for general practice Nick Unsworth's senior house officer posts included a year on the Royal Marsden Bone Marrow Transplant Unit in Sutton, which, ironically, was to become almost a second home to him as a patient in his later years.

Nick spent 12 years in Canada before settling in practice in rural Sussex. Interested in “anything and everything,” he loved making lists, took inordinate pride in his tiny garden, and served as medical officer for Brands Hatch motor races.

In 2004 Nick had a bone marrow transplant for myelodysplastic syndrome (RAEB 1). The transplant was initially successful, and he was able to return to work. However, just as a normal life was seemingly possible again he suffered a devastating sequence of herpes virus infections, with shingles, pulmonary fibrosis, encephalitis, and optic neuritis in quick succession. This culminated in bilateral retinal detachments and complete irreversible blindness.

In his final 18 months as a visually impaired person (or VIP as he liked to call himself), Nick, with the support of his wife, the church, and the local community, found a tranquility and meaningfulness to his life that had perhaps eluded him in his earlier years. In adversity he found his finest hour and took up with enthusiasm the challenges of the new life. At the time of his death he was involved in the design of a computerised telephone triage system for blind doctors, a project that is continuing under his name.

His pulmonary embolus, when it came, was sudden and unexpected. Nick leaves a wife, Carole.


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