The Work of Ian Donald with Ultrasound Technology

September 19, 2006

OBGYN.net Conference CoverageFrom 8th World Congress On Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology, Conference Date: November, 1998 - Edinburgh, Scotland

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Roberta Speyer: “This is Roberta Speyer reporting from Edinburgh, Scotland on November 2, 1998. I’m speaking today with the widow of the father of ultrasound, Professor Ian Donald. Alix, could you tell us a little bit about the early days when your husband really started ultrasound?”

Mrs. Alix Donald: “Yes, during the war he was interested with ultrasound and its use for military purposes but when he went to Glasgow, and he took up his job as the Regius Professor of Midwifery – that was what he was called – and he felt he was making use of the best of ultrasound to measure things in metal and not human beings.”

Roberta Speyer: “And a lot of that was going on in Scotland at the time?”

Mrs. Alix Donald: “Yes, it’s always been used for those types of things.”

Roberta Speyer: “Mrs. Donald, when your husband originally discovered what he could do and how he could image the fetus, did he have any idea of the global impact of the work that he was doing?”

Mrs. Alix Donald: “No, not at all at that point.”

Roberta Speyer: “This would have been back in 1955?”

Mrs. Alix Donald: “I’m not exactly sure but it was in the early, early fifties.”

Roberta Speyer: “How difficult was it for him to present his work? Was it well accepted by his colleagues at that time?”

Mrs. Alix Donald: “Not really but he produced a famous paper in the Lancet. I forget the year and that I suspect brought it and...”

Roberta Speyer: “And turned things around. Wasn’t there a case where he was able to operate on a woman that everyone thought had a malignancy and it turned out that it wasn’t?”

Mrs. Alix Donald: “Yes.”

Roberta Speyer: “Mrs. Donald, please tell me about the case where your husband first used ultrasound. It really impressed people that he diagnosed a cyst, wasn’t it?”

Mrs. Alix Donald: “Yes, it was an enormous swelling and everyone thought it was malignant and that she would die. My husband decided that it wasn’t and that it was a benign cyst. He operated on her and his ultrasound diagnosis was quite right.”

Roberta Speyer: “Was this the first time that ultrasound really was used operatively for gynecological ultrasound?”

Mrs. Alix Donald: “Yes, it probably was but of course it gained impetus from then on. They were so encouraged that there was a lot of diagnoses.”

Roberta Speyer: “Very good. Please tell us if you enjoying the Conference here in Edinburgh for the International Society for Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology?”

Mrs. Alix Donald: “I’m enjoying very much seeing old friends. It’s great to see people we have known for a long time and who admired my husband’s work.”

Roberta Speyer: “Yes, you were here to give out an award for great research. You presented that yesterday in memory of your husband.”

Mrs. Alix Donald: “Yes, it’s the Gold Medal, and it’s awarded to people who’ve done the best research in the course of the year. I understand it was given to a very impressive Norwegian professor.”

Roberta Speyer: “We’re very glad that you gave us this opportunity to hear about some of the early days when your husband started what has now turned out to be something that has changed the world. Thank you very much.”

Mrs. Alix Donald: “Thank you.”