Michael Johnstone d2007

Michael Johnstone (left on the Photo) was the anaesthetist who led the clinical introduction of Halothane in1956 he was based at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

There were others involved, one particular anaesthetist of note was Frank Robert-Shaw of Sheffield.

Johnstone a Queens University Hospital Belfast graduate in 1941, became an anaesthetist in 1953 because he had a bad experience when he was a house officer.

Having had little training, he sought advice from an experienced house officer. The advice given was:

‘Oh, you don’t have to do much. Just drip chloroform on to the mask and if the patient goes grey, send for me.’

The patient did go grey and Johnstone was determined tofind a better agent. 

In 1956, he was offered the oppotunity to trial Halothane, which had been developed in the UK by Halothane was the agent he felt that ticked theboxes. 

This halogenated hydrocarbon was first synthesized by C. W. Suckling of Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) in 1951. Halothane became popular as a non-flammable general anaesthetic replacing other volatile anaesthetics such as diethyl ether and cyclopropane.

Use of the anaesthetic was phased out during the 1980s and 1990s as newer anaesthetic agents like Sevoflurane and Desflurane became popular. Halothane still retains some use in the Third World because of its lower cost.307

He was a champion for ODPs in his time. He died in October 2007 of a CVA.

Also in the photo at top. Charles Sucking (centre), and James Raventos the co discoverers of Halothane.




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