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Ian Donald

  • Ian Donald

    Ian Donald

    Source: Reproduced courtesy of Medical Illustration Services Glasgow Royal Infirmary

Born 27 December 1910, Liskeard, England.
Died 19 June 1987.

An outstanding obstetrician and inventor of the first diagnostic ultrasound machine.

Connection to the University of Glasgow: Professor
GU Degree: DSc, 1983;

Discover more obstetricians on the University of Glasgow Story website


The following achievement is associated with Ian Donald:

Pioneering the use of ultrasound in medicine
The use of diagnostic ultrasound, particularly in obstetric medicine, became established practice thanks to the work of Ian Donald.


The following honours are associated with this person:


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Ian Donald (1910-1987), the developer of the use of ultrasound in the field of obstetrics, was Regius Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology from 1954 to 1976. He was awarded an honorary DSc in 1983.

Born in Cornwall, Donald was educated at schools in Scotland and South Africa and studied Medicine at London University. 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.

Donald became interested during the Second World War in the possibilities of adapting radar and sonar technology for medical diagnosis. He worked with T G Brown of the the scientific instrument makers Kelvin & Hughes to create the first diagnostic ultrasound machine, and in 1958, with Brown and John MacVicar, he published his findings in The Lancet. He was involved in the planning and design of the Queen Mother's Hospital in Glasgow, which opened in 1964 and was appointed CBE in 1973.