Former Pupil Biographies
Professor Donald MacLeod
Douglas, MBE MS, CHM, FRCS, FRCSED, FRSE (1911-1993)
|Professor of surgery at St Andrews University
1951-1976, surgeon to the Queen, 1965-1976. He was knighted in 1972.
He was born in St Andrews on 28 Jun 1911. He served with the Royal Army
Medical Corps with the 8th Army in the Middle East, where he was awarded
his MBE in 1943, reaching the rank of Lt Col.
Appointed the first full time professor of surgery at St Andrews
University Medical School in Dundee, Donald Douglas was one of the post
war surgeons who transformed university surgery in Britain. A natural
surgeon, he was skilful and courageous, yet always relaxed while operating
- the time that his assistants found best to ask a favour. Though a
committed general surgeon, he pioneered his special interest in
cardiovascular surgery while supporting the introduction of new surgical
specialities. His analytical mind, which quickly unravelled a problem,
made him a gifted teacher (he excelled at formal lectures) and a dedicated
inquirer. His initial research in gastrointestinal physiology and shock
and the use of radioisotopes in surgical research was followed by a deep
interest in factors influencing wound healing, about which he wrote
His realisation that it was people who were the source of wound infections
stimulated work on operating theatre procedure and led to the design of
ideal surgical facilities in Dundee's new teaching hospital at Ninewells,
and the use of trousers by his female theatre staff.
Donald was active in health service planning and, as president of various
organisations, in national and international surgical affairs. This
brought him many honours; his honorary DSc from St Andrews University gave
him greatest pleasure. He sought relaxation in his home and garden and was
devastated when his daughter Sheena, then a house surgeon, was killed
while driving home. He loved the Scottish countryside, and joining him in
his evening walk with his gundogs was a necessary part of an external
Formidable, determined, and decisive yet ever in control on committees,
Donald somehow always managed to get his view accepted as the only
rational way forward, enabling him to effect change. But he also could
resist change: his choice of house surgeon, based on "top academic, top
rugby player, top girl" survived the age of computer matching. But he was
himself a top academic, a rugby blue, and married a top girl, Diana.
He died on 28 Jan 1993, survived his wife, his two sons Ian and Neil and
one daughter, Kate; there was one further daughter, deceased.
Sir Donald’s family includes Professor Sir Neil Douglas, President of the
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and Sir Donald’s daughter, Kate
Douglas, is married to Professor Jimmy Hutchison, a Member of RCSEd
President of The Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland in
1964, whose annual scientific meeting was held in St Andrews.