Papworth Heroes

Peter Stovin

Consultant Histopathologist
Helped to determine an international standard for heart and lung biopsies.

Dr Peter Stovin came to Papworth Hospital as consultant histopathologist from the London Hospital in autumn 1960. At that time his work was mostly related to the surgical lung specimens with only occasional cardiac autopsies. However in 1979 everything changed with the start of heart transplantation.

In 1979 he went to Stanford University for a short course on human heart transplant pathology led by Dr Margaret Billingham. He realised that he was handling unique material and he helped other cardiac research workers; this involved being present at the transplant operation. Together with David Spiegelhalter in 1983, he determined a new system for monitoring biopsy specimens in transplant patients which became the recommended standard by the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation.

He wrote the chapter on heart pathology in R Y Calne's Transplantation immunology clinical and experimental (1984) and in John Wallwork's book Heart and Heart-lung Transplantation (1989).

In evidence to the Redfern Inquiry (2008) into the retention of surgical and autopsy material by hospitals, Dr Stovin pointed out that retention was necessary as one in ten transplant patients had been keen to see their own removed organ and that he fully expected some relatives would want burial or cremation to include the original diseased organ. Dr Stovin retired in autumn 1986.