Professor Donna Lamping

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The Independent Online

Upon graduating with a doctorate in psychology from Harvard in the early 1980s, Donna Lamping, who died on 8 June, made great efforts to convince sceptical doctors of the need to take into account not only the duration of life when evaluating the efficiency of care and chemotherapy, but also pain and the quality of life. At this time, Donna had no idea that 30 years later she herself would be faced with this issue. When Donna developed questionnaires to obtain a measure of pain and discomfort by patients, she did not know that she would one day find herself in the waiting room of a prominent doctor where she would fill out one of said documents as a patient. Here, he would thank her vigorously for her work that helped revolutionise medical practice!

Donna sought tirelessly to ensure that the patient's view was considered, developing tools to measure pain and mental and physical health. Initially, she faced not only disbelief but sometimes sarcasm. She possessed none of the expected attributes that were thought necessary for "serious" scientists at the time: she was a woman, attractive, smiling, and very trendy! She was nevertheless hired as an assistant professor at McGill University, where she gained such a reputation internationally that when the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine sought a scientist in health services research, it was Donna they attracted in 1990.

She was later appointed Dean of Graduate Studies and Professor of Psychology there. For this post – but most importantly, to reach the man who would become her husband, Professor Itesh Sachdev – Donna left her native Canada.

Donna Louise Lamping was born on 12 February 1953 in Toronto, Ontario, to a father of Irish descent and a mother whose family had emigrated from Italy before the war. Sheremained attached to her country;she returned to Canada every summer, and even many winters. Travelling and experiencing various cultures was another passion of hers, andshe was married in a Buddhist ceremony in Nepal.

She tirelessly delivered speeches across the world, and was electedPresident of the International Society for Quality of Life. When theannual conference of the Society took place in London last year she was unable to attend as the disease that would eventually prevail had just been diagnosed and she was recovering from major surgery.

Many came to visit her instead, as Donna had another passion: friendship. She constantly knitted links between hundreds of people, by sharing their joys and sorrows and deploying a thousand efforts to blend their fates. It comes as a surprise to no one that there is a multitude of people who will mourn her loss. It is also no surprise that Donna's last words were: "Peace and love throughout the world".

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