Lives of the fellows

Ian Mcallister Anderson

b.20 October 1911 d.10 December 1986
MB ChB Glasg(1934) MRCP(1939) MD(1945) FRCP(1957)

Ian McAllister Anderson was a proud Scot who was born in Kelvinside, Glasgow. His father, William Donald Anderson, was a qualified doctor but practised dentistry. He died when Ian was eight years old, but the family was relatively prosperous and did not suffer financially. Ian was educated at the Glasgow and Kelvinside Academies, entered the medical school of Glasgow University in 1929 and after graduation was successively house surgeon and house physician at the Royal Infirmary, and obstetric house officer at the Maternity Hospital.

Early in his career he came in contact with Leonard Findlay [Munk's Roll, Vol.V,p.l30], an incandescent red-headed man who was the second holder of the first established chair of child health in Britain. Findlay had a histrionic manner, and was much interested in rickets which was then prevalent among indigent Scots in Glasgow. He denied the value of cod liver oil, but Ian Anderson always defended Findlay despite this. When Findlay moved down to the Princess Elizabeth of York Hospital, Shadwell, Ian followed him and became his resident there. The move to London did not alter Findlay’s authoritarian manner or his florid style, and Ian was subjected to his notes being corrected in red ink in full view of the students and staff.

At that time, on ward rounds, Ian found that gastroenteritis was prevalent in the slums of London and he went to work as assistant resident at the St Louis Children’s Hospital in the USA, where Hartman was a pioneer in the management of acidosis from salt and water depletion. He returned to Britain to become resident medical officer at Shadwell, and in 1939, when Findlay moved to Oxford, Ian was appointed as first assistant (i.e.registrar) to the children’s department at the London Hospital where he worked with Bellingham-Smith [Munk's Roll, Vol.VI, p.41] and Tallerman [Munk's Roll, Vol. VII,p.567]. It was there that he met his wife, Eileen Nolan-Neylan, who was a staff nurse. He was attracted to her pretty appearance, and she was attracted to his handsome presence and his clinical diagnostic skill.

From 1940-42, during the second world war, he was a physician in the Emergency Medical Service and then joined the RAMC as a medical specialist with the rank of major, seeing service in the Middle East, India, Scotland, and subsequently in Germany, where he attended Field Marshall Montgomery. They got on well. When Ian wished to go to Copenhagen to visit a friend, Montgomery made his personal plane available for him; when Ian got off at Copenhagen the expectant throng waiting at the airport were disappointed to see only a lieutenant colonel walking down the steps. Ian enjoyed this moment nevertheless.

After discharge from the Army, Ian became children’s physician at the Prince of Wales Hospital and ran a cardiac clinic there, mainly for those with rheumatic heart disease, and was later appointed consultant physician to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, both at Shadwell and Hackney Road. He worked at all these hospitals until he retired. Because of his experience with heart disease and his contact with Clarence Gavey [Munk's Roll, Vol. VII,p.207], who was cardiologist at Westminster Hospital, he was also appointed to the staff there and, from 1947, to the Westminster Children’s Hospital. At some time he held appointments at Ilford Public Health Clinic, St George’s Hospital, Ilford, and he was honorary paediatrician to St Stephen’s Hospital, Fulham, until 1964.

Ian had his own mind; he opposed the random use of antibiotics in the management of gastroenteritis; when the MRC was funding the unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children, Hackney, he disagreed with their use and was outspoken in committee. He was therefore well ahead of his time, but was excluded from the gastroenteritis ward by the medical committee whilst he was on holiday. He took holidays infrequently after that.

He put all his energies into developing a unit at the Westminster with, at first, the late Sir Clement Price-Thomas [Munk's Roll, Vol.VI, p.382] and later with Charles Drew, for the management of children with congenital heart disease. It was very demanding work, Drew having perfected the technique of profound hypothermia; it meant detailed investigations and meticulous post-operative care. He was assisted by Joseph Humble [Munk's Roll, Vol.VII,p.284], the haematologist at the Westminster, and by juniors who subsquently made their way in paediatric cardiology. They included C G Newman, his successor, and Michael Tynan, professor of paediatric cardiology at Guy’s Hospital. Charles Ayoub was a paediatric cardiologist who learnt a great deal from him and subsequently practised at the American Hospital in Beirut.

Patients might be referred by friends or colleagues, but were often ‘picked up’ at the various hospitals that Ian attended, so that at different times of the week he would be in Tottenham, Ilford, Hackney, Shadwell, or even Banstead in Surrey, as well as at St Stephen’s. He travelled around London on public transport, being picked up at Guildford every evening by his wife, who waited there for him. Weekends were utilized for the Saturday ward round and playing golf, which was his great love. His other love was going to and entertaining at the Caledonian Club, where his reminiscences were often succinct, powerful and pointed.

Apart from the original work, which he directed, in congenital heart disease - in which he was assisted by Handley Coles (q.v.) who did all the catheterizations for him - Ian collaborated with Joe Humble and John Hobbs in bone marrow transplantation. Humble and Pegg had pioneered this technique at the Westminster Hospital and the first patient in the world to receive a successful bone marrow transplant was one of Ian’s patients. The work was subsequently taken up by Kenneth Hugh-Jones and the department now has a national, if not international, reputation.

At different times, Ian was secretary of the section of paediatrics at the Royal Society of Medicine, and examiner for the diploma of child health. He obtained his membership of the College in 1939 and was later elected a Fellow. He was stern as an examiner, but generous as a marker. He could be frightening and demanded a great deal of his juniors. Those who survived did well and there are many who are grateful to him for putting them in line.

Retirement was irksome to Ian Anderson and he undertook a few locums. Eventually he moved up to Meriden, near Coventry, with his wife, so that they could be close to other members of the family. He suffered a very unhappy terminal illness, in which he was devotedly supported by his family.

L Sinclair

[Daily Telegraph, l8 Dec 1986]

(Volume VIII, page 5)

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