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Biographical entry McFadden, George Dickson Fisher (1892 - 1981)

MRCS and FRCS 1924; MB BCh BAO Belfast 1919; MCh 1923.

Newtonstewart, County Tyrone
27 July 1981
Paediatric surgeon and Paediatric urological surgeon


George McFadden was born in Newtonstewart, County Tyrone, in 1892 and remained an Ulsterman all his life. The son of Jackson McFadden, a Presbyterian minister, and of May Loudon, he was the fourth son and the sixth child in a family of nine. His early upbringing was responsible for the integrity and honesty which were outstanding features of his life. After education at the local primary school and the Royal Belfast Academical Institution he proceeded to medical school at Queen's University, Belfast, in 1911. Halfway through his undergraduate career he became a Surgeon-Probationer in the RNVR, working on small craft which would not otherwise have carried a qualified medical man. It is reputed that, whilst at sea, George McFadden was washed overboard by an enormous wave and then washed back on again by a subsequent one!

On returning to Queen's after the war he graduated with honours in 1919, secured the MCh with Gold Medal in 1923 and the FRCS in 1924. He was appointed resident surgical officer at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, becoming expert in paediatric surgery under the tutelage of Denis Browne. An unexpected vacancy on the staff of the Ulster Hospital for Children took him back to Belfast and he joined the visiting staff of the Belfast City Hospital in 1939. He was at first somewhat hesitant about accepting this last appointment but, having been persuaded by the hospital's senior gynaecologist, T S S Holmes, he never regretted the decision.

Together with his colleague, Eric McMechan (qv), he organised a much improved system of admission and of bed organisation at the City Hospital, a regular take-in routine and medical staff meetings. He had a special interest in abdominal surgery and paediatric urology, and made useful contributions in the prevention of shock and venous thrombosis. His work on congenital urethral valves also became well known and he was responsible for numerous publications on this subject. He established a large private practice whilst his opinion and advice were widely sought all over Ulster where he enjoyed a high reputation. After the inception of the NHS he became the first Chairman of the Consultants' and Specialists' Committee in Belfast and was President of the Ulster Medical Society in 1956-7.

In his surgical work George McFadden maintained and expected the highest standard. He was a man of immaculate appearance, always arriving at hospital or nursing home in his gleaming Bentley to maintain a lifestyle now largely gone. Generations of students recall his excellent teaching rounds and informal lectures at the City Hospital. He introduced tonsillar dissection under local anaesthesia to Belfast, and operations for congenital urethral valves and for urinary diversion in ectopia vesicae.

He had been an enthusiastic rugby footballer at school, a hockey blue at university and a keen golfer later. He married Gasparina dos Santos in 1927 and was survived by her and his son George when he died on 27 July, 1981.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1981, 283, 792; Lancet, 1981, 2, 428].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England