Lives of the fellows

Anne Ethel McCandless

b.20 April 1916 d.19 August 2000
MB BCh Liverp(1939) MD(1947) MRCP(1947) FRCP(1970)

Anne will be remembered for her mischievous sense of fun and the way she loved to shock. This she did expertly with her characteristically tongue-in-cheek outrageous comments. She was born in Baltimore, USA. Her father, Joseph McCandless, was an industrial chemist and her mother, Margaret, came from a farming family. Some three years after Anne was born, the family moved to Southport, Lancashire, where Anne attended Southport High School and then the University of Liverpool where she graduated in 1939, with distinctions in public health and pharmacology.

Due to rheumatic heart disease she did not apply to join the armed forces but spent the war in Paddington and Hackney, where she found dodging bombs and V2 rockets less stressful than managing 150 medical and paediatric beds.

Initially she thought of specialising in anaesthesia and she held house officer appointments in anaesthesia at Derby City Hospital and Leicester Royal Infirmary, but she eventually returned to Liverpool to undertake training in paediatrics under Norman Capon [Munk's Roll, Vol.VI, p.89]. She was neonatal paediatric register at the Liverpool Oxford Street Maternity Hospital and was then appointed lecturer in child health in the newly formed department of child health with clinical duties mainly at the Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital, Myrtle Street.

In 1950 she was appointed consultant paediatrician at Warrington, but after about a year she was appointed consultant paediatrician at Liverpool's Alder Hey Children's Hospital and also neonatal paediatrician to the maternity units at Sefton General Hospital and Broadgreen Hospital.

Her pioneering work began in Warrington. At the time 20 per cent of all infants admitted developed gastro-enteritis and five percent died not from the original complaint but from cross-infection. To combat this Anne encouraged family doctors to keep infants out of hospital. Treating sick children out of hospital was not easy. It meant 30 domiciliary visits every year, often after midnight.

The infant mortality rate was 80 per 1000 when she went to Warrington and 40 per 1000 a year later due to keeping sick infants out of hospital. When they had to be admitted to hospital, their mothers were admitted with them. In Warrington she used the private wing of the hospital to accommodate the mothers and at Alder Hey her two side wards. She also encouraged daily visits of patients to her wards, a practice which was years ahead of its time.

Her particular paediatric interest was in epilepsy and in the early 1950s she started an epileptic outpatient clinic at Alder Hey. She saw every patient herself, read the end of term reports of all the patients and advised them on a suitable career.

Her big neonatal unit at Sefton General Hospital was the first in the region to monitor the true glucose levels in premature babies. In 1953 she introduced endotracheal intubation and insufflation with oxygen treatment for birth asphyxia. This led to the establishment of a resuscitation centre at Alder Hey and this was the first of its kind in the country.

She was a general paediatrician and her varied interests are reflected in her publications. Among the topics she addressed were sciatic paralysis in new-born infants, thyrotoxicosis in a neonate of a mother with no history of thyroid disease, D13 chromosome syndrome, and hypo-aldosteronism.

She married late. She met her husband Tom Rimmer (a county councillor) when they were both members of the Liverpool Children's Regional Hospital committee. She was pre-deceased by her husband only three years after their marriage.

Following retirement in 1974 Anne moved to St Andrews in Scotland where other members of her family were living. I usually visited St Andrews annually in August and renewed a 60 year old friendship with Anne. At my last visit in August 2000, I was distressed to find that she had lost weight and that she was not her usual bubbly, effervescent self. She died suddenly later that month.

Robert McLaren Todd

[Brit.med.J., 321,2000,1535]

(Volume XI, page 357)

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