Sir Ivan Magill KCVO, DSc, MB, BCh, BAO, FRCS, FFARCS (Hon), FFARCSI (Hon), DA, 1888-1986.

Ivan Whiteside Magill was born on 23rd July 1888 at 4 Barnhill Terrace (now 10 Curran Road), Larne, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland.

He was one of five children, his father Samuel Magill was a prominent businessman, councillor, Presbyterian and Freemason of Larne and his mother was Sara.

He was educated at Larne Grammar School from 1900 to 1906 and he graduated from Queen's University, Belfast in 1913. 211

I thought I would put in full the titles awarded to Sir Ivan Whiteside Magill, he is my hero, simply because when I was doing my vive exams has an OTT in the British Army. I was asked one question by a senior consultant anaesthetist, “how old is Magill” to which I answered. "I don’t really know; I presume he must be dead." The anaesthetist then looked at me in horror and said to me. "Dead, Dead, I hope not. I’m attending his 90th birthday party next week," to which I replied. "You must be honoured sir, to be invited to a birthday party of such a famous inventive anaesthetist." 

The anaesthetist concerned who was Brigadier Saunders, smirked and then gave a wry smile, as he must at that point considered what I said. The one word honoured must have struck a note on his ego. He then spent the rest of my viva session not questioning me, but detailing the life of Sir Ivan Magill. 

I believe that’s what first got me interested in seeking the history of anaesthesia and surgery.
His Birthday party was held at the Royal Society of Medicine on the 9th July 1978. This was attended by over 200 members and guests in Barnes Hall It was noted that 11 ex-presidents were in attendance, for some of which this was their first attendance for many years. Magill’s connection with the Royal Society of Medicine spanned over 57 years and was the audience to many of his papers.

Magill was first appointed as an anaesthetist at the Queen’s Hospital, Sidcup in 1919. He worked alongside the famous plastic surgeon Harold Gillies.

It was here that he got the idea to develop the endotracheal tube because of the airway problems of anaesthetising patients with major facial injuries He eventually was appointed to the Westminster and Brompton Hospitals in London. It was at this hospital that he developed the ET tube between the war years. Magill visited the American Anaesthetic pioneer Waters in1930.

He taught him blind nasal intubation.

Originally they were cut from a rubber hose; Magill developed his own metal adapters. Sir Ivan was knighted in 1960 by the Queen for his contribution to advancement of medical science he died in his 99th year in 1986. 212

There are two very old recordings here of Sir Ivan Magill. One from the BMA on YouTube just click the MORE INFO link below to watchthat and if you click on Sir Ivans Rugby team, another of him with his tube design.



                                                                                                                 BMA Interview


About This Site

The History of Surgery and Anaesthesia was created as a free resource to educate Students or indeed anyone wishing to understand the beginings of surgery and Anaesthesia.

Get in Touch