David Drummond Hart

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 27 October 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2046
  1. Aileen D Woodger

    David Drummond Hart (“Drummond”) was born in Redlands Nursing Home in Glasgow on 28 July 1931. He grew up in Glasgow and went to Jordanhill College School, where he played rugby for the first XV. Scouting was an important formative activity in his young life, and he drew on many of the skills and experiences gained in the scouts in his adult years as an avid outdoor enthusiast with a love of hill walking, cycling, and golf.

    A brilliant student at Glasgow University, Drummond qualified as a doctor at the age of just 21, the youngest in Scotland at that time. After qualifying, he completed his national service in the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving in Aden, Cairo, and Dubai. He subsequently served for many years as a volunteer reserve with the Territorial Army, latterly as a lieutenant colonel in field hospitals on many overseas trips. However, much as he loved these many and diverse trips, they only served to increase his love for his homeland.

    Drummond married Ann Victoria Edwards on 15 August 1958 and they had four daughters, Margaret Ann, Katherine Elizabeth, Sheila Mary, and Aileen Drummond.

    About 48 years ago Drummond and Ann moved to Aberdeen, where he took up a post as a registrar at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI). He quickly became a consultant anaesthetist and remained at ARI for the next 30 years until he retired in 1991. He had a particularly keen interest in neurosurgery and was one of the founders of the respiratory unit at ARI which developed into the intensive care unit, and he remained as one of the consultants in charge there.

    In his year as president of the North East Society of Anaesthetists, he based his address to the society on the physiological changes that occur during singing, one of his great passions and talents. Beforehand, and in the spirit of best medical practice, he had conducted an experiment on himself. A colleague inserted a cannula into Drummond’s radial artery and then they graphically recorded his arterial blood pressure, central venous pressure, and the manual pressure in his trachea while singing. The results of the experiment formed part of a remarkable and memorable presidential address, which unfortunately he did not publish.

    Socially within the hospital he also helped with arranging the joint hill walking outings of the anaesthetics department and maternity unit, often culminating at the Feughside Inn for lively curry suppers.

    Perhaps his greatest passion was the hills, and until the age of 70, he would venture alone most weekends into the Scottish mountains, bagging munroes (peaks of over 3000 feet) then latterly corbetts (peaks over 2000 feet). Drummond had a collection of many hundreds of photographs from these trips, most of them featuring his trusty red rucksack, which he liked to photograph to prove he had been there. Indeed, there is one photograph of his rucksack right in the middle of frozen Loch Callater, which he walked across one winter. Often his bicycle would feature in these photos too as Drummond was a keen cyclist and would think nothing of cycling 30 or 40 miles to reach the hill he wanted to climb.

    As an enthusiastic member of Deeside Golf Club for around 40 years, Drummond could be found there weekly with his good friends playing in pairs for a stake of just 10 p a round (the amount never changing in all that time). The game would then be analysed in minute detail over a pot of tea in the clubhouse.

    A tenor of near-professional standard, he sang for many years with the Haddo Choral Society, including leading roles such as Don José in Carmen, Nadir in the Pearl Fishers and Nanki Poo in the Mikado. After retiring, he kept this interest alive by singing with Aberdeen University Choral Society. He was also a competent pianist and would often sit at home, accompanying himself, to keep his passion for singing alive when he was unable to continue going to the choral society.

    Tragically for him, five years ago Drummond became confined to a wheelchair after contracting the hospital superbug MRSA in his spine after an otherwise successful operation. He never came to terms with being suddenly unable to play golf or cycle or walk in the hills, and his family hope that, as an ex-consultant in the hospital himself, his plight will underline the crucial need to rid the NHS of this terrible bug that has caused so much suffering for so many people.

    Drummond leaves behind his wife, Ann; his daughters, Margaret, Katherine, Sheila, and Aileen; and his six grandchildren, Jenna (16) and her sister, Kirsten (13), Cameron (14), Rachel (14), Sabrina (10) and her brother, Duncan (7). He will be sadly missed.

    Drummond’s funeral service took place on 7 March 2008 in the East Chapel and Aberdeen Crematorium. Donations in his memory can be made to the British Heart Foundation.


    Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2046


    • Former consultant anaesthetist Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (b 1931; q Glasgow 1952; TD, FFARCS), d 26 February 2008.

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