1 IT WAS in 1958 that medical pioneer Ian Donald and colleagues TG Brown and John MacVicar, published their groundbreaking article ‘Investigation of abdominal masses by pulsed ultrasound” in the Lancet. At the time, Donald was Regius Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, a post he held from 1954 to 1976 at the University of Glasgow. The research changed the treatment and monitoring of pregnant women forever.

Glasgow Times:

2 Ian Donald was born in 1910, the eldest of four siblings, and educated in Scotland before moving to South Africa in 1925. His teenage years were full of sadness - his mother who was a concert pianist, died after contracting diphtheria, and his father died just a few months later. The family’s housekeeper became the children’s guardian, and a trust fund supported them financially.

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3 Donald studied medicine on his return to London in 1930 and he served as a Medical Officer in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, when he was mentioned in dispatches and awarded (in 1946) an MBE for bravery. In 1951 he was appointed Reader in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St Thomas Medical School, London, where he devised a respirator for new-born babies with respiratory problems.

4 It was during the Second World War that he became interested in the possibilities of adapting radar and sonar technology for medical diagnosis. He worked with T G Brown of scientific instrument makers Kelvin & Hughes to create the first diagnostic ultrasound machine.

Glasgow Times:

5 Donald was involved in the planning and design of the Queen Mother’s Maternity Hospital in Glasgow, which opened in 1964 and he was appointed CBE in 1973. He died in June 1987, survived by his wife, four daughters and thirteen grandchildren.