U of T Remembers Dr. William Francombe

Jan 20, 2020
Brianne Tulk

Dr. William FrancombeDr. William Francombe The University of Toronto mourns the passing of Dr. William Francombe. A former Associate Dean, Vice Dean and Professor of Medicine, Dr. Francombe made an indelible impact on the field of hematology and medical education at the University of Toronto. Dr. Francombe passed away peacefully on December 28, 2019.

Dr. Francombe joined University of Toronto and Toronto General Hospital in 1965 where he specialized in hematology and blood diseases such as sickle cell anemia and thalassemia. When he retired in 1997, Dr. Francombe was one of the most senior hematologists in Canada.

In the 1970s, Dr. Francombe established the first sickle cell disease (SCD) program for adults in Canada at TGH, now known as the Red Blood Cell Clinic. Dr. Francombe was a tireless advocate for sickle cell disease screening and educating emergency room doctors and nurses about the disease, which wasn’t widely understood.

“It was rewarding work, but there were certainly challenges,” Dr. Francombe wrote in a 2016 account of the history of sickle cell disease in Canada. “I like to think our work in starting the clinic, and educating many doctors and nurses about Sickle Cell over the years has been helpful in improving the quality of life for people living with SCD.”

At Toronto General Hospital, Dr. Francombe’s appointments included Vice President, Medical Education, Senior Staff Physician, Deputy Physician-in-chief and Head of the Hematology/Oncology Department.

After his retirement, Dr. Francombe worked part-time with Canadian Blood Services in Hamilton and moved with his wife, Patricia, to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

A memorial will be held on Saturday, January 25 between 1 and 4 p.m. at Turner and Porter, located at 4933 Dundas Street West in Etobicoke.