Home / John Thompson

John Thompson

This is the obituary written by Ross Naylor for the European Society of Vascular Surgeons

Mr John F. Thompson MBChB, MS, FRCS(Ed) FRCS(Eng) 

Consultant Vascular Surgeon, The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter, UK 

The European Society for Vascular Surgery records, with great sadness, the untimely passing of John Thompson on 25th February 2021, at the age of just 63. At the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter UK, John was consultant in vascular surgery with an international reputation in blood transfusion/cell salvage and, most particularly, in the management of thoracic outlet syndrome. Born on the 29th of December 1957 in Newcastle upon Tyne, his undergraduate training was undertaken at the Charing Cross Medical School, London, graduating MBChB in 1982. His vascular training was completed in Poole, Southampton, Swindon and Bristol. 

In 1987, John was co-founder and (later) President of the Rouleaux Club. This was a forum for UK vascular trainees, whose emergence (at the time) was actively discouraged by the then doyens of the Vascular Society of Great Britain and Ireland (VSGBI), but which has flourished to the point that the Rouleaux Club 

President now sits on the VSGBI Council. John was later a valued VSGBI Council member, the first surgeon to serve on the Council of the British Transfusion Society, and he served on many influential blood transfusion and cell salvage committees, including the Chief Medical Officer’s National Blood Transfusion Committee. During his career, he co-edited two textbooks on blood transfusion, co-authored 31 book chapters and >100 publications and delivered 150 presentations and invited lectures. 

John was best known for his immense practical knowledge regarding the management of thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS). To the very end, he was the ‘go-to’ person in the UK for advising on the management of TOS (as well as throughout Europe and the rest of the world) and many UK footballers and athletes owe their continued success to his surgical skills. He was also an immense font of knowledge regarding novel blood transfusion strategies, autologous transfusions and cell salvage, long before they entered mainstream practice. 

On a personal level, John was a great friend to many and to those who enjoyed his company at the Association of International Vascular Surgeons ski meetings, he combined his undoubted academic skills with being one of the ‘very best tellers of the very worst jokes’. Even now, the punchline “you’re not here for the hunting, are you?” triggers wonderful memories of his incomparable joie de vivre! 

Alas, the High-Priest of the Thoracic Outlet is no longer with us, but the knowledge and skills he imparted to his many visitors and trainees will ensure that patients will continue to benefit from his teaching. RIP John, and our very best wishes go to Fiona, Polly, Will and Henry.