Friday, 13 January 2012

My tribute to Prof. Ian Donald


Prof. Ian Donald 1910 - 1987
Regius Chair of Midwifery at Glasgow University 
Prof. Donald was the pioneer of Ultrasonography in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 
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When we were married we went to live in Glasgow.  H had been accepted at the University to do a PhD.
I worked for a firm of Management Consultants in Glasgow, and we lived on my income. We managed to save H's research grant to add to our savings for our first home.  We stayed for 2 years with a remarkable old lady (more on her another time), before having our own little bungalow built on the route to Loch Lomond and with wonderful views towards the Campsie Hills. 
We enjoyed watching the progress of our first home, and by the time it was ready for us to move in, our first baby was due in five months.
My doctor arranged for me to go to the brand new university maternity teaching hospital under the care of Prof. Donald. It had only been open for a few months, and was considered one the most modern maternity hospitals in Europe at the time.
Just before Christmas I went for a check up and it was discovered that I had high blood pressure, and I was ordered into hospital for bed rest. This is a stressful situation for an unborn baby, and not good for the mother either.
On Christmas Eve Prof. Donald came  to see me with some students and trundled in a very large piece of apparatus which he called his ultrasonic machine.  He asked me if I would agree to let him use his experimental equipment on my tummy.  He said he would be very gently and that it would not hurt. I remember he was an extremely kind, and considerate man. 
Although engaged in research his paramount responsibilities were as a doctor and teacher. To his patients he gave his full attention, and treated them as individuals, to his students he gave lectures delivered with care and enthusiasm. 
He had a little lens on the equipment from which he could project an image on to a screen, nothing like the pictures taken today.
All that was visible was a single broken line, which he measured and told me that the baby was about 5½ pounds in weight. Thus, I became one of the very first people to test out his device whilst it was still a prototype, and which, has subsequently gone on to become one of the greatest developments in maternity care world-wide. 
He sent me home for 2 days over Christmas, and said that he would return after the New Year when he would make a decision as to the best course of action for mine and the baby's health.
Our eldest son took the matter into his own hands and arrived at the end of December weighing 5 pounds 6 ozs! a month early.  When Prof. Donald returned in January, he was delighted that nature had solved the problem for him.
Ultrasound showing one of my grandchildren - the images have moved on considerably since this was done.  It is now possible to see 3D facial features and fingers etc.

14 comments:

  1. This post I appreciate on so many levels that I won't be able to find the words. I quite enjoy the attitude of acceptance and happiness that nature resolved everything on its own... so different from many of today's doctors. I will be keeping this in mind over the coming weeks.

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    1. Dear Roanna - I think that it was an honour to play a small part in something that has gone on to revolutionise maternity care.

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  2. Dear Rosemary, thank you for sharing your story and I am glad that it had such a happy outcome.

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    1. Dear Rosemary - I am delighted that Prof Donald is now recognised for his important break through.

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  3. What a lovely story Rosemary..
    You truly were privilidged.. Imagine of baby grandchild..its'nt it just so miraculous

    Mum's owe so much to pioneers like prof. Donald..
    have good happy weekend.val

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    1. Yes Val, that is exactly how I feel too. Enjoy your weekend.

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  4. Hello Rosemary:
    What a lovely tribute to Professor Donald. And, how amazing that you were part of this extraordinary breakthrough in medical science. The speed of change and development in medical fields really is incredible and how exciting to have been part of this particular invention.

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    1. Dear Jane and Lance - how nice that you are safely back. We have a lot to thank medical researchers for. The changes in the last century are incredible.

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  5. Oh my goodness, Rosemary, you are part of history! One of the people on whom ultrasound was tested! I learn something new every day in this blogosphere.

    What a wonderful character portrait - I enjoyed it!

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    1. You're right Kate - I am an ancient guinea pig!!!

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  6. Rosemary, ultrasound saved my child's life as I had a biseptate uterus and she could have just fallen out at about twenty weeks due to the septum being there. The doctor saw it on sonogram and sewed up my cervix. I am a RN and I saw nothing on that sonogram so these doctors are well trained indeed. Thanks to your doctor. Interesting post and I am now following you. Olive

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    1. Dear Olive - how wonderful that your child was saved by Prof. Donald's scientific invention. I really think that he was a special man as he very much had women's welfare during pregnancy at the forefront of his thinking. Pleased you have become a follower.

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  7. how extraordinary experience you have had! it moved me the way you describe him. the way he was. isn`t it the way all doctors should be?
    thanks for sharing this so personal and absolutely lovely story Rosemary : )

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    1. Demie - I am pleased you enjoyed reading it, and you are correct, all doctors should have his attitude to their patients and the care they give to them.

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