A Doctor With Grace
Hendrix solved the gastroenterology cases that left others stymied.
From around the globe, patients with gastric and liver ailments, swallowing disorders, gluten intolerance, and diarrheal disease came to see Thomas Russell Hendrix ’51, founding director of Hopkins’ Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
“He was the gastroenterologist of last resort,” his son, Paul Hendrix, told The Baltimore Sun. Indeed, the elder Hendrix was “a doctor in full,” according to Paul McHugh, head of the Department of Psychiatry from 1975 to 2011. “He worked with patients, was a teacher and was an investigator. He had a doctoring grace about him.”
Hendrix died on December 23, 2013, of complications from heart surgery. He was 93.
A Navy veteran of World War II who saw combat in the Pacific and served on the staff of Adm. Chester Nimitz, Hendrix graduated from UCLA following the war and then came to Hopkins for his medical degree. He served on the Osler Medical Service under longtime physician-in-chief A. McGehee Harvey ’34, did additional studies under Franz Ingelfinger, chief of gastroenterology at Boston University, then founded Hopkins’ gastroenterology division in 1957. He headed it until 1988.
“He was passionate that the understanding of gastroenterology physiology was absolutely required for physicians to provide the highest level of care,” said Mark Donowitz ’68, Hendrix’s successor as division head. Especially skillful at “presenting science that everyone could understand,” Hendrix frequently was “asked to see the most difficult cases,” Donowitz told The Sun.