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Prof. Ian Donald


1910 - 1987

Medical scientist and inventor of the first practical ultrasound scanner. Born in Cornwall, the son of a Scottish doctor, Donald was educated in Moffat and at Fettes College in Edinburgh before emigrating to South Africa with his family. He returned to study medicine in London, graduating from St. Thomas's Hospital Medical School in 1937. Donald held a teaching post at the same institution until he accepted the Regius Chair of Midwifery at the University of Glasgow in 1954.

Along with engineer Tom Brown (b.1933), Donald developed the first contact ultrasound scanner. He pioneered diagnosis using the technique, reporting the developments in The Lancet (1958). Donald developed the technique over succeeding years such that it became standard practice in hospitals, especially used in maintaining a check on the health of the developing foetus during pregnancy. His work ensured Glasgow became an international centre of excellence for research in this field.

Donald was almost as well known for his strong views on abortion, vocally opposing the 1967 Abortion Act.

His publications included the successful textbook Practical Obstetric Problems, which ran to five editions. Donald was awarded an MBE for rescuing airmen from their burning aircraft during World War II and a CBE for his services to medical science in 1973.

He lies buried in Essex (England). In his honour, the Ian Donald Inter-University School of Medical Ultrasound was founded in Dubrovnik (Croatia) in 1981.


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