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Biographical entry Morgan, James Dunbar (1913 - 1982)

MRCS and FRCS 1948; MB ChB Sheffield 1940.

23 May 1982
Accident and emergency surgeon and Orthopaedic surgeon


James Dunbar Morgan was born in Liverpool in 1913 and educated at Liverpool College and at Sheffield University where he graduated in medicine in 1940. He later worked in the orthopaedic department of the Sheffield Royal Infirmary, then under the influence of Sir Frank Holdsworth. He was thus well grounded in orthopaedics and traumatology. During the second world war he joined the RAMC and served in the Middle East and in Italy, taking part in the Anzio landings.

He returned first to Sheffield and then afterwards to Oxford, where in 1949 he became first assistant to Joseph Trueta, at that time Nuffield Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. He held this post for the next six years and was Joseph Trueta's first academic appointee. During this time he was co-author of several important papers on, among other subjects, vascularity and osteogenesis; growth studies of the human femora; the treatment of osteomyelitis by penicillin; and lengthening - all in the vanguard of orthopaedic thinking at that time.

At the end of his time as Trueta's assistant he became consultant to the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre and the Radcliffe accident service. He made a major contribution to the development of orthopaedics and accident surgery in Oxford and helped establish one of the first growth clinics in England with the outstanding paediatrician, Victoria Smallpiece. He spent a good deal of time on the practical aspects of building up the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre. One of his strengths lay in his devotion to his patients and he was often to be found in the late hours, checking their condition and talking to them.

He was a keen countryman and an expert and knowledgeable gardener. He died on 23 May 1982 after a long illness, survived by his wife, Ruth, and sons Patrick and David.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1982, 285, 221, 301; Lancet 1982, 2, 112].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England