A theatre critic and Vogue magazine employee turned out to be in vastly different professions from their daughter, however they did bequeath one important trait to her: passion. Jane Somerville was born to parents that sent her away to an all-boys school during World War II.
Somerville has always identified her time at that school as the reason she was able to succeed and thrive in a male-dominated field like medicine. Accepted to medical school in a year when only eight per cent of the class was female, it was there that she first became acquainted with the affliction she would seek to forever change: congenital heart disease. Working under leading clinician Paul Wood, Somerville increased her knowledge in paediatric cardiology, recognising this as necessary information in the effort to understand adult congenital heart disease. She is known today as the mother of ‘Grown Up Congenital Heart Disease’ (GUCH). In 1980, Somerville held the first World Congress of Paediatric Cardiology in London and in the 1990s went on to become President of the GUCH Patients Association. Her family is also a source of intense pride, having had four children with her late husband Walter. Today, at the spry age of 80, Jane Somerville lectures all over the world and is an advocate for international GUCH services.
“You had to be very naughty if you were with naughty boys at school. If you weren’t naughty too, you didn’t get noticed or you certainly didn’t get your points over.”
“We have come a long way in the last century, with women’s rights becoming more commonplace. Jane Somerville went to medical school at a time when there were hardly any women there and paved the way for future female doctors.” – Bernardo Moya
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