Lane, Thomas Joseph Daniel (1894–1967), doctor and pioneering urologist, elder of two known sons, was born in Ferozepore (Firozpur) in the Punjab, near the border between India and Pakistan, where his father, Col. Daniel Thomas Lane (fl. 1885–1949), served as surgeon with the Indian Medical Service; his mother's name is not known. He was educated in Our Lady's Bower, Athlone, and at Clongowes Wood College, Co. Kildare (1905–11); he entered TCD and graduated MB, B.Ch., BAO (1916; winning the FitzPatrick scholarship), and MD (1921) (Dubl.). He took the London diploma of tropical medicine and hygiene (1920) with distinction. Unsuccessful in his aspiration to join the Indian medical service, he worked for a time as a general practitioner in Co. Limerick.
In 1920 he joined the staff of the Meath Hospital, Dublin, and worked in the pathology department (1922–4) and subsequently in the radiology department (1924–43), where he established the speciality on a firm footing. Appointed visiting surgeon (1922–67), he practised as a general surgeon, though he showed a preference for orthopaedics after his appointment as visiting surgeon to the National Children's Hospital.
During the mid 1930s his decision to specialise in urology crystallised after visiting the Mayo Clinic, USA, where he observed transurethal methods of treating prostate obstruction. Returning to Dublin, he took the unusual step of relinquishing his well established practice in general surgery in order to specialise in urology, becoming Ireland's founding father of the speciality. Despite limited resources and cramped working conditions, he quickly established a reputation for his genito-urinary surgery; by 1952 deaths at the hospital from prostatectomies had fallen to 4 per cent from 20 per cent twenty years earlier.
He was deeply committed to the needs of the hospital and its staff. At an early stage he recognised the necessity for specialisation in surgery, and at the opening of the 1943 clinical session he argued in his inaugural address for the development of laboratory services in pathology, biochemistry, and bacteriology. He also pleaded for higher rates of pay for nurses (who, he acknowledged, were the backbone of the hospital), and declared that if there were a choice between new buildings or proper staffing, he would unhesitatingly vote for the latter. By 1948 the hospital medical board and the Department of Health had agreed to the establishment of a separate urology unit. However, vexatious changes in the administration of the Meath in 1949 led to doubt about the fulfilment of the plan, and Lane considered leaving Dublin. The news prompted the president of the British Association of Urological Surgeons and the editor of the British Journal of Urology to write (8 January 1951) to leading politicians and the chairman of the Meath. They pointed out that restrictions imposed on the development of the clinic would be disastrous for urological specialist practice, since it was the only one in Ireland and was recognised as equal to any in Britain; Lane's unrivalled reputation made the Meath a place of pilgrimage for foreign surgeons. The following month the Meath Hospital Act, 1951, passed through the dáil, establishing new regulations for the administration of the hospital, which resulted in the opening (17 November 1955) of the new urological unit by the minister for health. Designed by Lane in collaboration with the architect, the four-storey, self-contained building, with its eighty beds, fully equipped operating facilities, and out-patient clinic, was the second largest in Europe, and brought international fame for Lane as director and for the Meath Hospital. The proposal that it should be renamed the Lane Unit, made by the visiting Canadian Nobel prize winner Charles B. Huggins (b. 1901), was rejected by Lane.
Author of many articles on general surgery and urology, Lane was a founder member of the British Association of Urological Surgeons, served on the editorial committee of the British Journal of Urology (1946–64), and was Irish delegate to the International Society of Urologists and fellow of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland. He was awarded an hon. M.Ch. (1951) by Dublin University, where he lectured in urology, and was elected hon. FRCSI (1957), the first practising Irish surgeon since 1786 to be so honoured, for the award is usually confined to non-nationals.
Known as ‘Tom’ and described (in his British Medical Journal obituary) as a perfectionist and impossibly utopian, he was an enthusiastic sailor, owning several boats berthed in Howth, Co. Dublin, and a talented gardener, delighting in the planting of exotic shrubs. He died 8 February 1967 in the Meath Hospital and was buried at St Fintan's cemetery, Sutton, Co. Dublin. A memorial bronze plaque was placed in the urology department of the Meath Hospital (1968), and TCD established (1968–9) the memorial T. J. D. Lane lectureship in urology. He married (14 November 1923) Agnes McLaughlin, who graduated MB, B.Ch., BAO (1923) (Dubl.); they had four sons and two daughters.
Their eldest son, (Daniel Francis) Victor Lane (1924–92), doctor, was born 9 October 1924 in Dublin, and was educated at Belvedere College, Dublin, and Clongowes Wood College, before entering TCD and graduating BA (1946). He was awarded several prizes and qualified MB, B.Ch., BAO (1948), and M.Ch. (1954) (Dubl.). After gaining experience in several hospitals in Britain, he returned to Dublin and was appointed assistant surgeon (1952–63) and surgeon (1963–90) to the urological department of the Meath Hospital, and served as consulting urologist to several Dublin hospitals, including St James's, the Rotunda, and the National Children's Hospital. He lectured in urological surgery at TCD and contributed papers to professional journals.
He received many distinctions, including election to the presidency of the Irish Society of Urology (1982); he was fellow (1950), vice-president (1982), and president (1984–6) of the RCSI, and was awarded hon. fellowship of RCPI (1985) and of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (1985). A fellow of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, he was a member of the Association of Genito-Urinary Surgeons, the British Association of Urological Surgeons, and the International Society of Urologists. He died 22 December 1992 at his home in Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow, and was buried in Glencullen cemetery, Co. Wicklow. He married (1956) Nuala McGilligan; they had three sons and two daughters.