Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Larne honours the home town hero who transformed surgery and saved thousands of lives

Sir Ivan Magill

Larne man and ground-breaking anaesthetist Sir Ivan Magill revolutionised modern medicine and his work has undoubtedly saved the lives of thousands of people the world over.

His might not be a name that everyone is familiar with, but this is set to change if campaigners in his home town get their wish for a statue to honour their miraculous medicine man.

In the meantime, the Ulsterman’s contribution to medicine was recognised yesterday with the erection of a plaque at his birthplace in Co Antrim.

The pioneer and inventor was initially interested in surgery but went on to become one of the world's most influential anaesthetists.

Larne and District Historical Society decided to honour “forgotten” Magill with a plaque to recognise his efforts and the development of medical equipment still in use to this day.

In the early 1900s any doctor could be expected to give anaesthetic for any operation, with just a basic certificate to prove competence.

During his studies in 1910 Magill was inspired to specialise by what he felt was inadequate training for the “onerous task” of giving anaesthetic.

Chairman of the Larne historical society Liam Kelly said: “Ivan was forgotten in his home town and this has now been remedied.

“This plaque will help to acknowledge his amazing achievements and I would welcome the idea of a statue to honour his outstanding contribution.”

Dr Brian Dunn, Northern Ireland representative of the British Medical Association, unveiled the plaque at Magill’s first home, 10 Curran Road, in the Co Antrim town.

He said: “Sir Ivan Magill will be remembered mostly for the contribution he made to anaesthetics.

“The development of the endotracheal tube that allowed patients to be ventilated during operations, the Magill forceps still in use today and the recognition of anaesthetics as a specialty in its own right was due mainly to his vision and drive.

“He continued to develop anaesthetic techniques and is probably partly responsible for the developments in thoracic surgery and cardiac surgery that could not have happened without the developments in anaesthesia that he pioneered.

“Lisburn has a statue of Professor Frank Pantridge. Maybe now we in Larne should be celebrating the life and contribution to medicine of Sir Ivan Magill with a statue.”

Mayor of Larne Andy Wilson, one of Sir Ivan’s ancestors, said: “Recognition for Ivan is long overdue and I am proud he has been given prominence in his homestead.”

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