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Biographical entry Magill, Sir Ivan Whiteside (1888 - 1986)

KCVO 1960; CVO 1946; MRCS and Hon FRCS 1951; Hon FFARCS; DA; Hon DSC Belfast 1945; Hon FFARCSI.

23 July 1888
Larne, Northern Ireland
25 November 1986


Ivan Magill was born at Larne, Northern Ireland on 23 July 1888 the son of Samuel, a draper and Sara (née Whiteside). He was educated at Larne Grammar School and Queen's University, Belfast, a strong young man of "enviable physique" being a rugby forward and a heavy-weight boxer for the university.

After qualifying in 1913 and resident appointments in Liverpool he served in the RAMC as Captain and was medical officer to the Irish Guards at the Battle of Loos, 1915. A postwar posting to Barnet War Hospital was followed by another in 1919 to Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, a 600 bed hospital for soldiers wounded in the face and jaws. Here, working as anaesthetist to Harold Gillies and with his contemporary Stanley Rowbotham, the necessity of being able safely to anaesthetise for faciomaxillary injuries became the mother of invention and for this Ivan was the right person at the right place at the right time; it was from this point in time that Ivan's innate ability and inventiveness gave rise to the many pieces of anaesthetic equipment that bore his name. In 1930 he introduced Evipan to British anaesthesia. He was appointed consultant anaesthetist to the Brompton Hospital in 1923 and to the Westminster Hospital in 1924. He served the Royal Family, being awarded the CVO in 1946 and KCVO in 1960, the fourth anaesthetist to be knighted.

He once wrote "When I took up anaesthetics I felt the importance of the service would never be realised until it became recognised as a specialty with a Diploma entailing the necessary training and study" indeed the words of the founding fathers of the DA (RCS and RCP) which began 8 November 1935, the Association of Anaesthetists, July 1932 and the Faculty of Anaesthetists RCS, and when he died at the age of 98, the College of Anaesthetists (RCS) had been formed.

He was awarded many honours in recognition of his contribution to the practice of anaesthesia and to the emerging specialty; the FRCS by election 1951; Honorary FFARCSI; Honorary Fellow, Faculty of Anaesthetists RCS; Honorary Fellow, the Royal Society of Medicine, and the Henry Hill Hickman Medal (RSM) among others. In 1945 Belfast University made him DSc, having rejected his MD thesis on blind nasal intubation many years earlier.

Outside medicine he was a keen trout fisherman and caught his last trout (51b) on his 97th birthday. In 1916 he married Dr Edith Banbridge. There were no children of the marriage and she died in 1973. Ian died on 25 November 1986.

Sources used to compile this entry: [Brit med J 1987, 294, 62-63; Lancet 1987, 1, 55; The Times 29 November 1987; Anaesthesia 1987, 42, 231-233].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England