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Biographical entry Orr, Ian Morison (1901 - 1966)

OBE 1943; FRCS ad eundem 1962; FRCS Ed 1934; MB ChB Glasgow 1926; MD 1934; ChM 1940.

17 January 1966
General surgeon


Born in Glasgow in 1901, he was educated at Glasgow Academy and at Glasgow University. After qualification he held house appointments in Liverpool and then went out to Neyoor, S India to join T H Somervell FRCS, the 1926 Everest climber, at his mission hospital. While there Orr dealt with a large number of patients suffering from peptic ulceration and also those with carcinoma of the mouth. This experience enabled him to develop a meticulous surgical technique and an interest in surgical research.

He returned to England in 1938 and joined a practice in Hindhead as a surgeon; in 1940 he wrote a thesis on peptic ulceration for which he was awarded the degree of ChM by Glasgow University. In 1941 he entered the RAMC being posted to India and in 1943 he was awarded the OBE (Military) for his work for famine relief.

Returning after the war to Hindhead he was appointed surgeon to the Haslemere and District Hospital. His work on peptic ulceration in India had been noted by Grey Turner, whose successor, Ian Aird, appointed Orr a lecturer at the Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith to carry out an investigation into the effects of vagotomy in duodenal surgery. In 1948 he was appointed surgeon to the Preston Royal Infirmary where he remained for 17 years until he died.

While holding this appointment he had a personal series of over 2000 operations for peptic ulceration which served as a basis for papers he published and lectures he gave to establish the indications for the various forms of surgery applicable to this condition and he organised a most efficient system of follow-up both short and long term. Ian Orr was an extremely capable surgeon and a perfectionist, treating all his patients with the same kindly care and attention irrespective of their status in the community, which was natural for a man of strong religious conviction. Throughout his life he was sustained by a genuine and unobtrusive Christian faith. He had a deep humility and integrity which coupled with his ability was a comfort to his colleagues, his patients and his friends.

At the annual meeting of the BMA in 1954 he was honorary secretary of the Section of Surgery and in 1959 its Vice-President. In 1963-64 he was chairman of the Preston Division of the BMA and in 1964 he was an Arris and Gale Lecturer at the College. In his hospital he devoted special attention to the teaching and welfare of his junior staff. By his personality and surgical ability he raised the prestige of his provincial hospital group immeasurably.

He enjoyed an open air life in particular riding and hunting with the Pendle Forest and Craven Harriers.

He died on 17 January 1966 at his home 32 Ribblesdale Place, Preston survived by his wife and three sons one of whom is N W M Orr FRCS.

Vagal resection in treatment of peptic ulcer. Lancet 1947, 2, 84-88.
Selective surgery for peptic ulcer. Surg Gynec Obstet 1954, 98, 425-432.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1966, 1, 425].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England