Lives of the fellows

Charles Sydney Douglas Don

b.31 October 1901 d.7 September 1973
MB ChB Aberd(1925) MRCP(1927) MD(1928) FRCP(1947)

Charles Sydney Douglas Don was born in Kingston, Jamaica, His father, an Aberdonian, was port health officer and his mother came from an old Jamaican family. He was educated in Jamaica until the age of eighteen when he began his medical studies at Aberdeen University. He graduated with honours in 1925 having received distinctions in all subjects and been awarded the John Murray gold medal as the most distinguished graduate of the year. After junior medical and surgical posts at Sheffield Royal Infirmary, including that of house physician to Professor (later Sir) Edward Mellanby, he took his MRCP in 1927 and transferred, across the Pennines, to Salford Royal Hospital where he rose from registrar to become honorary assistant physician in 1928 and full physician in 1932. In 1928 he proceeded MD with distinction for a paper on the treatment of toxic goitre, and he published several papers on this subject between 1929 and 1932. In 1935 he was appointed honorary assistant physician to Manchester Royal Infirmary and later became consultant physician. For a number of years he also held the post of visiting physician to Crumpsall Hospital. He was elected a Fellow of the College in 1947.

His interest in hyperthyroidism persisted throughout the years and received further impetus with the advent of antithyroid drugs. He also published work on the standardisation of haemoglobinometry. His clinical involvement ranged over the whole field of medicine and for many years he was physician to the Royal Eye Hospital and in charge of the diabetic clinic. During his long service at Manchester Royal Infirmary he became a legendary figure to generations of medical students. He was renowned throughout the Manchester region, and beyond, for his clinical thoroughness.

During the second world war he served in North Africa and Italy and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. On his return to civilian life he once again displayed his inherent capabilities: superb diagnostic skill, extreme attention to detail and tireless energy. As a teacher he was straightforward, conscientious and remarkably effective. He inspired great trust among his patients and affection among his colleagues both senior and junior. A pragmatist at heart, and the kindest of men by temperament, he usually tended to avoid administration and committee work, but when this was unavoidable he performed his duties meticulously.

In his youth he had been an enthusiastic sportsman and had been a pole vault and 220-yard champion in Jamaica. His last years were clouded by a serious complaint which proved fatal. No picture of him would be complete without mention of the courage with which he bore the last months of increasing weakness and pain. He was supremely happy in his home life and was nursed with the utmost devotion by his wife. They had two daughters.

Sir Gordon Wolstenholme
V Luniewska

[, 1973, 3, 700; Lancet, 1973, 2, 685]

(Volume VI, page 153)

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