BM BCh Oxon(1958) MRCP(1965) DM(1969) FRCP(1976)
01 May 1933 – 13 January 2012
Antony John Wing was a consultant nephrologist at St Thomas’ and then St George’s hospitals, London. He was born in Oxford, the son of Henry John Taylor Wing, a company director, and educated at Rugby School, Lincoln College, Oxford, and then St Thomas’ Hospital for his clinical studies, qualifying in 1958. He was a gifted sportsman at near international level and captained St Thomas’ to win the Hospitals’ Rugby Cup.
On being called up for National Service in 1960, he opted for a commission in the RAF and was posted as a squadron leader to Aden and then to RAF Halton, where Tom Flynn was head of a pioneering kidney unit. This determined Tony’s lifelong commitment to nephrology, then in its infancy as a specialty. The unit treated military personnel with acute kidney failure, but also many patients from the general population of southern England.
He returned to St Thomas’ as a registrar in 1964 and then followed his mentor Hugh de Wardener to Charing Cross Hospital in 1967, first as a registrar then as a senior registrar, where he worked on patients in chronic kidney failure surviving on long-term dialysis treatment. There he studied calcium fluxes during dialysis sessions, for which work he obtained his DM in 1969.
After spending a year in the department of medicine, Makerere University, Uganda, he returned to the UK and was appointed as a consultant nephrologist to St Thomas’ Hospital. He was also responsible for running the dialysis unit at Lambeth Hospital. He was one of a cadre of young nephrologists appointed at that time who played a key role in developing renal units around the UK, as the need for dialysis and transplant services had by then been recognised. Working with his colleagues Norman Jones and Philip Hilton, he devoted the next 25 years to developing and maintaining the renal and dialysis units at both St Thomas’ and Lambeth hospitals in south west London.
From the mid-1960s the European Dialysis and Transplant Association (EDTA) had developed a registry to keep track of all patients in Europe receiving dialysis treatment or renal transplants. This was a bold and innovative idea, and one of the earliest international registries of patients. Tony became involved with Hans Gurland and others in expanding the EDTA registry, the offices of which were located at St Thomas’ Hospital during Wing’s chairmanship. At the unit at St Thomas’, Tony developed with Neville Selwood innovative approaches and techniques to handle and analyse the data. He also attracted and supervised a number of younger nephrologists undertaking research using the registry’s findings.
For a number of years Tony was a key figure internationally in providing reliable and incisive analysis of regular dialysis treatment and transplantation throughout Europe. During his time as registry chairman he used his drive, enthusiasm and energy to modernise every aspect of the organisation and extended its work. Under his chairmanship the international committee became not only a very effective, hard-working and committed team, but also a group of friends. The registry became the model on which similar organisations in other parts of the world were based.
Over 15 years, starting in 1974, he was the lead author of a series of annual core reports and a number of special enquiries using registry data, outlining progress in the treatment of end-stage renal failure in adult and childhood patients throughout Europe, which influenced government thinking, as well as medical practice, not only in Europe but throughout the world. Tony’s expertise was used throughout the 1980s to support the analysis of shortfalls in the treatment of renal failure patients in the UK conducted by a committee chaired by Netar Mallick, who succeeded Tony as chair of the registry.
Throughout his career as an academic nephrologist Tony remained nonetheless first of all a clinician. In 1994 he was invited to go to St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London, to spearhead the development of a new academic unit; this he achieved with skill and tact.
Tony was a charming and thoughtful man, who had about him a real and winning humility. He was a committed Christian, whose beliefs were at the core of his values as a physician and as a man, and gave him comfort through a prolonged illness at the end of his life, which he bore with grace and dignity. He was survived by his wife of 52 years Rachel (née Gray), daughter (Nikki), three sons (Mark, Charlie and Mike) and 10 grandchildren.
John Feehally, John Eastwood, Stewart Cameron