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McDONALD, Ian Alexander (1922-1990)

McDONALD, Dr. Ian Alexander (1922-1990)

Dr Ian McDonald.

Dr Ian McDonald.

Dr Ian McDonald, gynaecologist, surgeon and medical practitioner was a leading specialist in obstetrics and oncology and a key proponent in the development of gynaecological education in Australia.

In 1991, Ad Astra reported on Dr Ian McDonald's: 'outstanding work in obstetrics and Gynaecology recognised by the North Middlesex Hospital’s establishment of a new gynaecology unit bearing his name. The Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists to establish the Ian McDonald Memorial Fund, the purpose of which is to bring to Australia eminent overseas surgeons to lecture in their particular field.'

Ian McDonald was born in Western Australia on 1 April 1922, the son of Rev. Neil McDonald and Ida Millicent, nee Rees. He was enrolled as a boarder at Geelong College from 12 February 1936 to December 1940. He had previously attended Warragul High School and his address at enrolment was 'The Manse', Warragul.

At College, Ian was a member of the House of Guilds Council in 1939 and 1940, a member of the Glee Club Committee in 1940, rowed with the 4th VIII in 1940 and was awardee of the Music Prize in 1939.

He had many warm memories of 'Glee Club' performances and of his association with the then Director of Music, George Logie Smith. Pegasus applauded his performance in the 'Glee Club' production 'HMAS Pinafore in 1939: 'Ian A. McDonald as Ralph Rackstraw, set a commendable example of confident stage-bearing at all times and was well suited to his tenor part, being particularly pleasing in 'The nightingale sang'.' The following year, 1940, Ian played the role of 'Frederic' in 'The Pirates of Penzance' and Pegasus described his role: 'Of the principals, Frederic (I. A. McDonald) sang and acted with commendable assurance, and, when the occasion demanded it, with great tenderness. No note was too difficult for him.'

After leaving College, he studied medicine at The University of Melbourne graduating MBBS in 1946. He then became resident medical officer and later, gynaecological registrar at the Royal Melbourne Hospital until 1948. He also tutored in anatomy. In 1948, he performed military service, mainly in Japan with the occupation forces. Soon after, he pursued post graduate training in London, becoming a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) in 1949 and MRCOG in 1952. He then returned to Australia becoming Assistant Gynaecologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. In 1963, he was awarded a Robert Fowler Travelling Scholarship by the Anti-Cancer Council which allowed him to study gynaecological oncology. That year, he became Fellow of the Royal College of Gynaecologists (FROCOG). From 1966 till 1982 he was Gynaecologist in chief and honorary gynaecologist at Royal Melbourne Hospital. He retired from practice in 1982 but contiued as a consultant gynaecologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Not only did he develop and pioneer new techniques, such as the 'McDonald Suture', in obstetric surgery and treatment, he was also a catalyst in establishing and developing the Australian professional association for gynaecolgy. He was first elected to the Council of the RCOG in 1957 and over the next twenty years worked to improve educational standards, expand the Registrar programs and helped develop the qualification, 'Fellow in Gynaecology and Obstetrics' (FAGO) as the recognised standard in Australia. He served twice as Secretary and, as President, in 1975.

His publications included: ‘A method of obstetrics and gynaecology' in 1971; 'Female genital tract cancer' in 1963, and in 1981 a history of the Australian College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists entitled 'Super Ardua' in 1981.

He died on 4 December 1990, aged 68 years.

In recognition of his achievement, Dr Ian Alexander McDonald was inducted into the Old Geelong Collegians' Association (OGCA) Notables Gallery at Geelong College on 27 October 2018.

His sons, Malcolm (OGC 1963), and James (OGC 1968), both of whom became doctors, were also educated at Geelong College.

Sources: Pegasus December 1939 p30; Pegasus January 1941 p36; Ad Astra August 1991 p13; Royal College of Surgeons 2015. OGC 1936.
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