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J R Soc Med. 2005 March; 98(3): 133.
PMCID: PMC1079422

Ian Donald: a Memoir

James Willocks, Wallis Barr
154 pp Price £26 ISBN 1-904752-00-4 (p/b)
London: RCOG Press.

Many books could be written about the great character Ian Donald of Glasgow. One could be an account of the origins of ultrasound, how Donald developed the science from undersea submarine detection to equipment which revolutionized firstly obstetrics and then other medical fields. Another book could be about his passion for caring for patients and the meticulous care he gave them through his life; Donald was selfish for all he believed in, and fought valiantly for it. Others could write of the strongly held Christian faith of the man and how it ruled his culture and attitudes to contraception and abortion and the battles this led him into. This short volume is a panegyric by two of his apostles which, like the centre of a Venn diagram, takes in all areas of Donald's life.

All who worked with Ian Donald were affected by him. The late James Willocks and Wallis Barr have faithfully followed the Donald story chronologically. Early formative years are considered only briefly. Donald's medical career is then laid out with natural emphasis on the Glasgow years and his part in the teaching and research side of that university. His work in the design and construction of the Queen Mother's Hospital is traced; that building remains his monument. About a quarter of the book is quite rightly devoted to ultrasound, Donald's great legacy. This account reads well, for the authors were there through the formative years. A larger and more detailed biography of this hero of Scottish medicine is needed, but until it comes the memoir is an excellent libra brevis.

Articles from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine are provided here courtesy of Royal Society of Medicine Press