Dr Desmond Nicholas Croft was born on 14 June 1931. He was physician in charge of the department of nuclear medicine at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, and a pioneer of nuclear medicine in the UK.
He was born in Devonport, the son of Charles Richard Croft, a physician and Phyllis Mary Croft née Lee. He came from a medical and scientific family: John Croft, a cousin of his grandfather, was a surgeon at St Thomas’; his great grandfather on his father’s side was a doctor in the City of London; and, through his mother, he was related to both Sir Isaac Newton and Robert Boyle. His brother Jonathan Croft was a member of the Lodge.
Croft was educated at St John’s School Winnipeg and Westminster School before going up to study medicine at Trinity College Oxford, and St Thomas’ Hospital. He qualified BM BCh in 1956. He was a member of the Boat Club, the Claret Club and Vincent’s when he was up.
From 1957 to 1959 he was a house physician, a senior house officer, a registrar and a senior registrar at St Thomas’ Hospital. He then joined the RAMC as a captain for his National Service, and was a medical specialist at the British Military Hospital in Tripoli.
Back in civilian life, he was a senior medical registrar at West Middlesex Hospital. He was then a Nuffield Foundation fellow in gastroenterology to Franz Ingelfinger in Boston.
In 1969 he was appointed as a consultant physician at St Thomas’, in charge of what was then known as the ‘isotope lab’. The department moved into new premises in the 1970s and was renamed ‘nuclear medicine’. Under his leadership the department pioneered, amongst other things, quantitative lymphatic scanning, xenon lung ventilation scans, parathyroid imaging and, perhaps most importantly, PET scanning. The first PET centre in the UK opened in 1991 at St Thomas’ and Guy’s hospitals.
At St Thomas’ Croft was chairman of the consultants committee. From 1972 he was also a consultant physician at the Royal Masonic Hospital and, from 1974, at King Edward VII Hospital for Officers.
He represented nuclear medicine on multiple committees, including at the Royal College of Physicians. He was a founder member of the British Nuclear Medicine Society and was president from 1976 to 1978. From 1990 to 1993 he was president of the European Board of Nuclear Medicine, and while in this role helped ensure that nuclear medicine was recognised by the European Union of Medical Specialists as a specialty in its own right.
Outside medicine, he was a keen swimmer. As a student he represented both Westminster School and Trinity College on the water. His interests also included prints, fossils and golf.
In 1960 he married Hilary Diana Russel Rendle. They had three children – Charles, Nicholas and Hilary.
He was initiated in January 1971 and after being made Junior Deacon the following year advanced through he ranks to be installed as Worshipful Master in 1978. He became Charity Steward from 1983 to 1991.
He was awarded London Grand Rank in 1990.
Croft died on 7 September 2012.