In Memoriam, Dr Chris Rolles

It is with great sadness that we report the death of our President, Dr Chris Rolles, on 4th January 2023 surrounded by his family.

Chris’ involvement with Child Health International started with a visit to the Republican Children’s Hospital in Moscow in 1993 at the behest of Roy Ridgway, the charity’s Founder. He found that the funding of cystic fibrosis care only applied to in-patients, most of whom were quite seriously ill, and even that care was rudimentary with little key basic information recorded. There were no out-patient clinics. In response to these findings, Chris created a joint project between the Moscow CF service, led by Professor Nikolai Kapranov, and his CF department at Southampton General Hospital. The project lasted three years from 1993 to 1996. During this time, life expectancy of Muscovite CF children had doubled. This had been achieved through establishing an out-patient clinic and the introduction of a multi-disciplinary approach to care involving not only CF consultants but physiotherapists, specialist nurses and dieticians. Chris was not only the medical lead, but negotiated substantial funding from the pharmaceutical company, Solvay (now merged into Abbott), which not only funded the project but also supplied Creon and other vital medicines. It was this project that provided the framework and objectives for similar Child Health International ‘twinning’ projects in Eastern Europe and other countries over the last 27 years.

On a personal level, he was perhaps the natural children’s cystic fibrosis consultant; something of a “cuddly teddy bear” and blessed with a great sense of humour. Chris went further, supporting and encouraging his staff and in many cases, positively influencing their choice of future careers as CF specialists. Chris was appointed CHI President in 2010, a small token of esteem and gratitude for all that he brought to Child Health International and throughout his medical career. He will be dearly missed.

A tribute to Dr Chris Rolles from his Russian friends, medical colleagues and the Russian CF community.

Dear colleagues, friends,

The news of the passing of Dr Chris Rolles has been of great pain to our hearts. We met him and his team from Southampton General Hospital during a difficult time for our country in the 1990s. Chris Rolles’ highly professional knowledge, commitment, sociability, openness and kindness helped then to form a team of collaborators, bringing together the scientific, medical and parent-patient communities in the fight against the severe disease – cystic fibrosis. In conversations between us, we often compared our first CF leader, Nikolai Ivanovich Kapranov, and Chris Rolles – so different and… so similar, who left us one after the other. Thanks to both of them, the organisation of cystic fibrosis care in Russia reached a high level (which remains to this day), making it possible to change the prognosis of the disease. We have been able not only to increase significantly the life expectancy of our patients, but also to improve its quality. We have started to help our patients to live and not to die.

Chris Rolles was and will remain for us an amazing man, who was able to unite around himself young specialists from different countries, helped us to understand each other, gave stimulus to active work in the profession and friendship for many years.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chris Rolles’ large and friendly family, particularly his wife Toni, whom we remember and love for her hospitality and understanding.

Chris Rolles will always be in our memories.

From: Evgeny Ginter, Nataliya Kashirskaya, Sergey Semykin, Olga Simonova, Anna Voronkova, Lyudmila Perederko, Elena Kondratyeva, Irina Myasnikova… doctors, cystic fibrosis patients and their parents.

Professor Evgeny Ginter, Research Director, Medical Genetics Research Centre. Participant in the Moscow/ Southampton project.
Professor Nataliya Kashirskaya, Medical Genetics Research Centre. Participant in the Moscow/ Southampton project.
Dr Sergey Semykin, Head of Paediatrics, Russian Children’s Hospital. Participant in the Moscow/ Southampton project.
Professor Olga Simonova, National Medical Research Centre for Child Health. Participant in the Moscow/ Southampton project.
Dr Anna Voronkova, Medical Genetics Research Centre. Participant in the Moscow/ Southampton project.
Dr Lyudmila Perederko, formerly Russian Children’s Hospital. Participant in the Moscow/ Southampton project.
Professor Elena Kondratyeva, Medical Genetics Research Centre, Scientific Research Clinical Institute of Child Health, Ministry of Health.
Irina Myasnikova, Chairman of the Board of the inter-regional NGO “Help Patients with cystic fibrosis”. Chairman of the Board of the All-Russian NGO “All-Russian Society for patients with rare and incurable diseases”. Participant in the Moscow/ Southampton project.

We are currently preparing further information on Dr Chris Rolles’ projects and contributions to Child Health International, so please keep an eye on our website for further posts.