Consultant in haematology and transfusion medicine;
Born: September 25, 1953; Died: November 19, 2012.
Dr Rhona Watkins, who has died at the age of 59, was a highly respected consultant in haematology and transfusion medicine at the West of Scotland Regional Blood Transfusion Service at Gartnavel General Hospital in Glasgow, the largest in the country.
She was responsible for the medical management of the blood donor care programme, including the selection and counselling of donors, and was in constant contact with donors, patients and their general practitioners. The counselling and care of donors who were discovered to be carrying incidental infections in their blood was a major part of her work. She was also responsible for the medical aspects of donor care in the Inverness area.
Dr Watkins was an expert in apheresis, in which highly specialised blood products are removed either from healthy donors or from patients as a form of therapy, and was the medical manager of the rapidly expanding apheresis service. She was responsible for the medical management of the British bone marrow registry, which again involved looking after volunteers and unrelated potential donors from across the UK, and assessing the matching of donors and patients. Her clinical work also included the provision of specialist blood products for patients with unusual immune system disorders.
She was brought up in East Kilbride and educated at Park School and Glasgow University, where she graduated in medicine in 1977. After training in Inverness and Glasgow Royal Infirmary, she was appointed consultant haematologist in transfusion medicine at Gartnavel in 1992. She was a highly sought after teacher of medical undergraduates, specialist trainees, technical staff and nursing staff, and was a member of the training group of the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service. As such she was responsible for setting standards for the training of donor care and nursing staff throughout Scotland.
She was an essentially private person and her circle of friends was small but loyal. Her interests were many and varied. She had been a formidable left-back on the hockey field and represented her school at athletics. She was a keen skier all her life, and visited some of the most fashionable resorts. She also loved watching rugby and golf.
Her tastes in music were eclectic, from Haydn and high opera to the Beach Boys and Bon Jovi. Her greatest pleasure was discovering new restaurants where she would take friends to visit for long evenings full of good food and wines.
She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in November 2010. Although she initially responded to treatment, she developed complications which meant most of the last eight months of her life were spent either in the Beatson Cancer Centre or St Andrew's Hospice, Airdrie.
Her mother died the week after she was diagnosed. She is survived by her father, Tommy.
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