McDonald, Ian Hamilton

  • Ian McDonald

    Extent of 95 and a half years

    28th of July 1923 - 5th February 2019

    Pre- medical education

    1936 - 1940 Scotch College with particular interest in maths/physics, Australian history, scouting and cricket.

    Medical qualifications, appointments, and points of interest

    1941 - 1946  

    The University of Melbourne on a senior government scholarship. This was a compressed wartime medical course, graduating M.B., B.S., with honours in surgery, and obstetrics and gynaecology. Ian was also awarded blues in cricket and hockey.

    1946 - 1947 

    Junior RMO Melbourne Hospital (later The Royal Melbourne Hospital) under Sir William (Bill) Johnston, Henry Searby, Jack Turner and Les Gleadell.

    1947 - 1948

    Junior RMO The Children's Hospital, Carlton (later The Royal Children's Hospital) beginning a career-long association with the RCH.

    1949 - 1953

    Ian held numerous positions including admitting officer, surgical registrar, anaesthetic registrar, and, having obtained the D.A (Melb Uni) he became the assistant to the Senior Visiting Anaesthetist, Dr Margaret (Gretta) McClelland. Ian describes her as a charming lady and most competent practitioner. At the insistence of Dr Vernon Collins, who was at that time Medical Director, Dr. McClelland was shortly appointed to the new position of Director of the Department of Anaesthesia.

    In that post-war period, anaesthesia was making the transformation from rag and bottle ether, through cyclopropane, to the remarkable metamorphosis producing methods essentially those of today (2015), which together with advances in I.V. therapy, antibiotics and rapid evolution of diagnostic methods, was changing the face of surgery, enormously expanding it into cardiac, pulmonary, oesophageal, neuro-surgical, reconstructive and other neo-natal fields.

    Especially remembered by Ian was, surprisingly, still seeing patients with obstructive diphtheria, acute rheumatic carditis, and the extraordinary reversal of meningococcal septicaemia with the still all-potent penicillin. It was a happy period with returning servicemen joining a small group in an obsolescent hospital, but with excellent rapport between medical, nursing, ancillary and administrative staff.

    1953 - 1955

    Ian had an Oxford interlude as Nuffield clinical assistant in the anaesthetic department at Radcliffe Infirmary where Professor Sir Robert Macintosh held the world's first chair in anaesthesia. This was an excellent department with straight forward safe clinical anaesthesia. Ian spent time with the world's premier paediatric anaesthetist Jackson Rees in Liverpool, an experience that Ian describes as having been illuminating.

    Touring the "garden" of England and Scotland made these two years a most pleasant time for Ian and his wife, Dorothy, along with their very young daughter. A mini RCH existed there, with Nate Myers, Tom Maddison, Alex Venables and Eoin Aberdeen meeting in variously scattered places in England.

    Ian had meanwhile been granted Fellowship of the Faculty of Anaesthetists R.A.C.S.


    Ian returned to anaesthetics at the RCH, now a fully professional department with Margaret McClelland as full time director, registrars, and paediatrically trained visiting staff.

    Circa 1960 - 1962

    Ian was the Victorian State Chairman of the Faculty of Anaesthetists (the Faculty, later to become Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists). During this time he also became half time senior visiting anaesthetist at the RCH and was invited to join the senior medical staff.

    Paediatric anaesthesia remained Ian's main field, working part-time in private practice with outstanding surgeons Durham Smith, Nate Myers, Peter Jones, Max Kent and Alex Auldist from paediatric wards at Mercy, Cabrini and St George's Hospitals. He also undertook occasional surgeon/anaesthetist consultations at these hospitals with subsequent rather extraordinary private car transport of intubated high risk babies to the RCH, preceded the introduction of N.E.T.S (now PIPER).


    At this time Ian introduced the practice of prolonged naso-tracheal intubation, initially after failed tracheostomy extubation, and then for post-operative babies and children with severe breathing difficulties. John Stocks took over this intensive work load and became director of the newly formed I.C.U., and subsequently of the anaesthetic department. After John's tragic early death Kester Brown oversaw the department, continuing the spread of the RCH message world-wide.

    Concurrently, Ian maintained a regular modest adult practice, becoming a visiting anaesthetist to the Victorian Plastic Surgery Unit at Preston and District Hospital in association with Sir Ben(jamin) Rank, Mr Don Marshall and Mr Dick Newing, some of whose fly-fishing skills Ian tried to emulate and with whom, representing the VPSU, he took part in a short reconstructive surgical visit to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).


    Retired from the RCH


    Retired from all anaesthetic practice.

    Other pursuits and interests

    1949 Pelham St, Carlton Children's Hospital. Sister-in-Charge Ward 9, Margaret Lockhart, introduced Ian to theatre sister Dorothy Hogg, whom Ian wooed in theatre and subsequently shared a very happy life for 64 years. Margaret in turn happily married paediatrician Tom Maddison, and Ian's contemporary Alex Venables, cardiologist, succumbed to his ward sister Betty Turner. Ian sent him off as his best man! Dangerous days!

    From 1941


    The Old Scotch Rover Scout Crew, led by bushman/mathematician Sir Tom Cherry, spurred Ian into bushwalking and by extension skiing, particularly cross country/downhill on the Main Range, Kosciuszko. Wartime skiing was on home made skis when Buller was accessed only by stony wheel tracks in Peter Williams' (orthopaedist) gorgeous Classic Vauxhall 30/98. With friends, Ian's skiing took off immediately after WW2 from newly built lodges like those of Chamois Ski Club (President in the 1960s) at Buller and USC (Hotham) Ian's home clubs, and from several other huts of varying rudimentality at widespread mountain areas. Wider adventures took them touring and trekking in the Himalaya, Kashmir, Ladakh, the d'Entrecasteaux Islands, South America, the trans-Siberian, etcetera, often in company with Dr Noel Ramsay and Diana (theatre sister Diana Harrison), both RCH stalwarts.

    From 1970 The above pursuits induced the acquisition of several 4WD vehicles in which Dorothy and Ian toured the deserts and back roads of most of Australia with wonder and enjoyment, following the tracks of Sturt, Stuart, Leichardt, Giles, Burke and Wills, and others.

    Melbourne Cricket Club

    • 1946 - 1953  MCC 1st XI wicket keeper
    • 1948 - 1953  Victoria 1st XI for 40 matches (Ian thanks his RCH mates)
    • 1953  An Australian XI v South Africa at SCG. Ian's brother Colin opened the batting for Australia from 1952 until 1961
    • 1956  Founded the MCC XXIX Club devoted to friendly cricket in Victoria, and now around the world
    • 1957  Invited /elected to MCC general committee
    • 1959 - 1960  Toured Pakistan and India as M.O. to Richie Benaud's Australian XI
    • 1961 Founded (with great assistance) the MCC Hockey section
    • 2000  Elected an Honorary Life Member of MCC


    In 1990 Durham Smith introduced Ian to golfing, becoming in 2002 a member of Kew Golf Club, celebrated with the over 80s Stewart Cup in 2004 and 2014, and with an "ace" on the 4th in 2008.

    In later years Ian said the book shelf, golf, and his three children kept him sane after losing his dear Dottie in 2014.


    Prolonged Nasotracheal Intubation in a Paediatric Hospital (with Dr J.G. Stocks – B.J. of A. xxxvii 3. March 1965)

    The John Stocks Memorial Lecture RCH Oct 1985 – Archives RCH Department of Anaesthesia

    Fellows Profile. Ian McDonald – Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists Bulletin 10. 1. March 2001)