He began working with a local electronics company to experiment with the use of industrial sonar with pregnant women and with T.G.Brown from Kelvin and Hughes Ltd produced the first successful diagnostic ultrasound machine. The results were reported, with co-author Dr John MacVicar, in the Lancet of June 7th 1958.
The early days of ultrasound were not easy; colleagues were sceptical and he struggled with the early machines, but eventually produced equipment that was able to display a clear image of the fetus in the uterus. From the early equipment, a new science of fetal diagnostics has emerged, with machines that today show the unborn fetus in increasingly sharp detail.
Ultrasound is now used in many fields of medical diagnostics beyond obstetrics and thus in a number of specialties Donald’s invention has changed the face of medical practice.