Browse Fellows


www Lives

Biographical entry Campbell, Sir Donald (1930 - 2004)

Kt 1994; CBE 1987; FRCS 1985; MB ChB Glasgow 1952; DA 1957; FFA RCS 1959; FFA RCS Ireland 1979; MRCP Glasgow 1979; FRCP Glasgow 1982; FRCS Edinburgh 1993; Hon FRCS Ireland 1994; FRCA.

8 March 1930
Rutherglen, UK
14 September 2004


Sir Donald Campbell was a former professor of anaesthesia at the University of Glasgow and President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow from 1992 to 1994. He was born on 8 March 1930 at Rutherglen, near Glasgow, the son of Archibald Peter and Mary Campbell. He attended Hutcheson’s Boys’ Grammar School and then went on to the University of Glasgow, where he studied medicine.

After completing resident posts, he left for Canada to begin his training in anaesthesia, working in Edmonton and in Lethbridge, Alberta. In 1956 he returned to Glasgow to complete his training at the Royal Infirmary and Stobhill. From 1959 to 1960, he was a lecturer in anaesthetics at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. In 1960 he transferred to the health service department as a consultant anaesthetist, a post he held for the next 16 years.

While training in Canada he had developed an interest in anaesthesia for heart surgery and also noted the early development of intensive care units. Using his diplomatic skills, he succeeded in persuading his colleagues that this was the way forward for their patients. The respiratory intensive care unit was opened in 1966, with Campbell as its first director.

His research interests covered the development of ventilators, the pharmacology of new analgesic drugs, and the effects of smoke inhalation on the lungs. His published works included over 100 papers on anaesthesia, intensive care, and related subjects in peer-reviewed journals. He was the author of two textbooks.

In 1976 he was appointed to the chair of anaesthesia in Glasgow. In this post he was able to develop his interest in medical education. For a period of four years from 1987 he was dean of the medical school. From 1985 to 1990 he was Chairman of the Scottish Council for Postgraduate Medical Education. As a member of the medical advisory committee of the British Council he was involved in arranging attachments to UK departments for many young trainee anaesthetists from overseas and also from the Royal Navy.

On the national stage, he was vice-president of the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland in 1977, and President of the Scottish Society of Anaesthetists in 1979. He was an examiner and board member of the Faculty of Anaesthetists (the forerunner of the Royal College of Anaesthetists), and was elected dean of the faculty for three years from 1982. He went on to become vice-president of the Royal College of Surgeons from 1985 to 1987. Before he retired, he was elected President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, the first anaesthetist to hold this post.

He was awarded the CBE in 1987 and he received his knighthood in 1994, in recognition of his contribution to medicine.

He suffered a stroke soon after his retirement, and this limited his ability to enjoy his favourite sports of fishing, curling and shooting. It did not, however, suppress his enjoyment of people and his skill as a raconteur.

He married twice. His first wife was Nancy Rebecca McKintosh, ‘Nan’. They married in 1954 and had a son and a daughter. After her death in 1974 he married Catherine Conway Braeburn. They had two daughters. He died on 14 September 2004.

Sources used to compile this entry: [BMJ 2004 329 1105, with portrait; Glasgow Herald 24 September 2004.].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England