The Pioneers

Thomas Phillip Ayre MRCS, LRCP, FFARCS (1902-1980)

Dr Philip Ayre, was a brilliant pioneering anaesthetist. He was born in Fulham, London in 1902 to Dr F. J. Ayre and Dorothea Ayre.

His father moved to Glamorgan in Wales to take up his position as a General Practitioner. He had two sisters Katherine and Mary.

He studied at Epsom College and moved on to St Bartholomews in London to study medicine.

It is said that he had already administered about 2000 anaesthetics before he qualified in 1933 in London.
He joined the staff of Newcastle General Hospital in 1934 as an SHO in anaesthetics. Here he anaesthetised for W. Wardill, to whom Sir James Spence sent all his paediatric surgical cases, which included hair lip and cleft palate deformities

Paediatric anaesthesia in those days was for the typical case, to put it in Dr Ayres’s own words,

"A protracted and sanguine battle between surgeon and anaesthetist with the poor unfortunate baby as the battlefield."

In 1937 he invented a technique which revolutionised the practice of anaesthesia for babies and children, and the Ayres’s T-piece is still universally used in paediatrics.

He headed the Department of Anaesthetics at Newcastle General Hospital and the Newcastle Hospital for Babies in 1950, posts that he held until his retirement in 1966.

He spent all his working life in the Newcastle region, and for over 45 years anaesthetised at most of the city's hospitals.

The kids loved his approach to him as he played on his speech impediment caused through a cleft pallet and as he suffered from alopecia and he would make fun of his red wig with the children on the ward.

Thomas Philip Ayre will long be remembered in the North-east.216




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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.

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