A pioneer of kidney dialysis: the Frank Parsons Archive

It’s been just over 60 years since Frank Maudsley Parsons performed the first kidney dialysis at the Leeds General Infirmary on 30th September 1956. The Artificial Kidney Unit at the Infirmary was the first of its kind in the UK.

Special Collections holds Frank Parsons’ archive, and we’re pleased to announce a new catalogue is now available online.

Explore the Frank Maudsley Parsons Archive

Frank Parsons Archive catalogue screenshot
Special Collections website: Catalogue of the Frank Maudsley Parsons Archive

Parsons’ pioneering work in the use of dialysis for treating kidney failure was significant in the development of renal medicine. Born in 1918, he was an alumnus of the School of Medicine at the University of Leeds, graduating in 1941. After this, he worked as a surgical trainee at the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI) under the urologist Leslie Norman Pyrah (1899-1995).

He went on to become the Director of the Renal Research Unit at the Infirmary in 1967. Parsons also held a research post at the university in the 1950’s, and by 1974 was Senior Clinical Lecturer in Renal Medicine. He retired in 1983.

Find out more about Frank Parsons (1918-1989).

The archive contains files of papers, letters and publications by Parsons, spanning the course of his career. Many of the files contain notes and papers for a range of lectures he delivered, at conferences and events across the UK and around the world.

Cataloguing this archive has been fascinating, with the records providing an insight into Parsons’ research and how the technology used for dialysis developed. Interestingly, one of the files includes documents relating to a BBC series Your Life in Their Hands, as one of the programmes covered a visit to the LGI and the Artificial Kidney Unit in 1958 (see LUA FMP/1/2).

The new catalogue has been prepared as part of our Medical Collections Project, funded by the Wellcome Trust.

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