Papworth Heroes

Don Bethune

Consultant Anaesthetist
Involved in the development of cardiac and transplantation services at Papworth Hospital.

Dr Don Bethune was appointed a Consultant Anaesthetist at Papworth Hospital in January 1969 with responsibility for cardiopulmonary perfusion, which focuses on supporting the normal functions of the heart and lungs during open-heart surgery.

He joined John Collis, a former colleague at St Bartholomew's Hospital, to form the Anaesthetic Department. There was a registrar on secondment three days a week and Roy Gill was the sole perfusionist. Initially the surgical work was mainly thoracic but cardiac work grew with the onset of coronary artery surgery from under 100 to over 2,000 patients by the time he retired in 1997.

The cardiopulmonary bypass service was handed over to an independent company in the 1980s with Roy Gill and Dr Bethune holding a monitoring role on behalf of the hospital.

Dr Bethune was involved with the initial work carried out by Sir Terence English which led to a successful transplantation programme and the development of the Clinical Transplant Service, including the preservation and transportation of the donor organs.

His publications included chapters and papers on anaesthesia for heart and lung transplants, myocardial preservation, psychometric testing and other anaesthetic topics.