Dundee Royal Infirmary (D.R.I.) 1940s and 50s
Raymond R Ogilvie was appointed as Lecturer in Biochemistry in the Department of Surgery under Professor (later Sir) Donald M Douglas to carry out research into the biochemical changes associated with wound healing. He studied collagen metabolism (mainly in rabbits) with particular reference to its hydroxyproline and proline content during the various stages of wound healing and related these measurements to the tensile strength of the tissue. The biochemical part of this work was carried out in a research laboratory adjacent to the Surgical Department in ward 16, D.R.I.. Mr WF Walker (later Professor Walker) also had a PhD student, Arlene Watt, working on calcium and phosphorus metabolism, relating changes to the severity of surgery. HG Morgan assisted with the supervision of this project and Watt graduated PhD in 1964. Around 1961, the Professorial Surgical Unit commenced open heart surgery. Blood gas monitoring played a most important part during these operations and the immediate post-operative period (usually 24 hours). Ogilvie was involved in performing these assays on-site. Initially blood pH (the negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion concentration) was measured on a meter manufactured by E.I.L. This had a syringe into which blood (not microlitres but millilitres) was drawn and which was then fitted into a ground glass fitting at the junction of the potassium chloride salt bridge. Frequently the weight of the plunger made it move downward expressing blood into the KCl bridge, which resulted in very unsteady readings. This was prevented by placing a clothes peg around the plunger where it entered the barrel. Bicarbonate was measured, by Arlene Watt, using the Van Slyke volumetric method. Eventually the Department of Surgery invested some of its research funds in a mobile Radiometer blood gas analyser based on Astrup's equilibration technique. This allowed ready measurements of blood gas parameters inside the operating theatre. Although the operations were never performed more frequently than once a week, the monitoring frequently continued until two or three o'clock in the morning - such was the excitement that there were never any complaints about unsocial hours. Several papers were published in collaboration with HG Morgan on this work.
The first experimental heart lung procedure performed in Dundee was done on a calf obtained from the local cattle market (in Market Street, Dundee). The surgical group, equipped with a big wicker-work hamper, complete with lid, were sent to collect the live calf. When these "city slickers" arrived at the market, a couple of young farmers pointed to the calf in the pen and left them to get on with trying to persuade it to get into the hamper. Eventually the calf was rounded up and put in, but they couldn't get it to lie down so that the lid could be shut. They coaxed it and, in desperation, pushed heavily on its back - to no avail. Finally one of the farmers who'd remained to observe this comedy, came over and, with one quick movement, collapsed the calf's legs and closed the lid - a trick they soon learned themselves on subsequent visits.
Ogilvie took up an appointment as Staff Biochemist in Toronto, Canada, in 1967. At various times since then he has been elected as Treasurer, Secretary, President Elect and President of the Canadian Society of Clinical Chemistry. (ref: 73)
Dundee Royal Infirmary (D.R.I.) 1960s and 70s
Return to Introduction / Index