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Biographical entry Ranger, Ian (1925 - 2008)

MRCS and FRCS 1952; MB BS London 1947; MS 1963; LRCP 1952.

14 February 2008
Cringleford, Norfolk, UK
General surgeon


Ian Ranger was a true general surgeon who worked in the United Norwich Hospitals from 1967 to 1988. He was the son of William Ranger and Hatton Thomasina née Grigg. His father had been a schoolmaster, army officer and businessman, who emigrated to Australia in 1920, where Ian and his brother (Sir) Douglas were born. He was educated at Scott's College, Warwick, Queensland, and the Church of England Grammar School, Brisbane, returning to England before the Second World War to finish his schooling. He followed his elder brother Douglas to the Middlesex Hospital.

After qualifying he worked for a year at the Bland Sutton Institute of Pathology under Leslie Le Quesne. In 1958 he spent a year at the Boston City Hospital under J Englebert Dunphy, with whom he retained strong links and whilst there gave practical classes in surgical technique to medical students. Carl Walter, inventor of the Fenwal bag used in blood transfusion, made students smear their forearms with lamp black and scrub it all off before operating. This may have altered Ian's views on his own scrub up technique, as at times he used a special cream to smear his hands and arms, declaring that it was better after a gentle soap and water wash to trap any residual germs in!

On returning to the UK, Ian completed his thesis on oesophageal reflux. In 1964 he began a long locum in Cambridge during the illness of Brian Truscott and was appointed to his definitive post in Norwich in 1967. He worked with one surgical firm at the West Norwich Hospital with his equally enthusiastic senior colleague, Alan Birt. Other commitments were to the Jenny Lind Hospital for Children. But he displayed even more energy in his enthusiastic efforts at Cromer and District Hospital. Here he performed some major and heroic surgery, much to the consternation of the anaesthetists, and certainly the pathology department and perhaps some of the registrars working in Norwich. He recommenced emergency surgery there to the benefit of so many patients in north Norfolk, and liaised with a voluntary organisation, the Cromer Allies, to raise funds for an extra ward and new operating theatre.

He published papers on sialography, the dissemination of micro-organisms by a suction pump, superior mesenteric artery occlusion, and was a Hunterian Professor in 1961. Naturally left-handed, he was completely ambidextrous, working rapidly with never a wasted movement. Many residents went to Norwich from overseas to rotate through the surgical firms. Ian was surgical tutor for East Anglia for three years.

In retirement he divorced himself from medical activities, but is remembered by his colleagues for his enthusiasm and forceful character.

He married Janet, who predeceased him. They had two sons, Alistair and Piers. Alistair became a GP in Scotland. Ian Ranger died quite suddenly in Cringleford, Norwich, on 14 February 2008, after a period of ill health with heart problems.

N Alan Green

Sources used to compile this entry: [Eastern Daily Press 18 February 2008; Anthony Batty Shaw].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England