Donald, Ian

SUBJECT AREA: Medical technology
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b. 27 December 1910 Paisley, Scotland
d. 19 June 1987 Paglesham, Essex, England
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Scottish obstetrician and gynaecologist, pioneer of the diagnostic use of ultrasound in medicine.
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After he received his initial education in Scotland, Donald's family moved to South Africa, where he obtained a BA degree in Cape Town in 1930. After the death of his parents he returned to England, graduating in medicine in 1937. He served in the RAF from 1942 to 1946 and was awarded the MBE for bravery in rescuing air-crews. In 1954, following a fruitful period as Reader and Lecturer at St Thomas's Hospital and the Hammersmith Hospital, he was appointed Regius Professor of Midwifery in Glasgow. It was while at St Thomas's and Hammersmith that he evolved a demand-response respirator for infants. With the assistance of Tom Brown, an engineer, and the company Kelvin Hughes—which had earlier produced ultrasound equipment for detecting flaws in metal castings—he was able to originate, develop and improve the diagnostic use of ultra-sound in obstetrics and gynaecology. The use of this technique rapidly spread into other disciplines. Donald was fortunate in that the procedure proved to have no untoward influence on pregnancy; at the time, little was known of possible side effects.
He was the proponent of other advances in the speciality, including laparoscopy, breast-feeding and the preservation of the membranes during labour. An ardent anti-abortionist, his authoritarian Scottish approach made Glasgow a world centre, with himself as a renowned and loved teacher. Despite undergoing three major cardiac interventions, his longevity did not surprise those who knew of his immense vitality.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
CBE 1973. Honorary DSc, London and Glasgow Universities. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Eardley Holland Gold Medal. Royal College of Surgeons Victor Bonney Prize. Royal Society of Medicine Blair Bell Gold Medal.
Bibliography
1958, "Investigation of abdominal masses by pulsed ultrasound", Lancet (with Brown and MacVicar).
Numerous other papers in learned journals.
Further Reading
Obituary, 1987, Lancet (18 July).
MG

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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