Albert Patrick Dignan

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 23 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f86
  1. Fergus Dignan

Albert Patrick Dignan was appointed Queen’s Honorary Surgeon in 1973.While he acquired vast knowledge and experience in the surgical management of trauma, particularly gunshot wounds, he was also a highly skilled and versatile general surgeon.

Patrick, as he preferred to be called, was born in Dublin and—in common with his four brothers—grew up to be a doctor. He was awarded a medical scholarship to Trinity College, Dublin. During his time there he was appointed a demonstrator in anatomy and from then on his ambition was to be a surgeon. In 1947 he became a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland.

He decided to gain further surgical experience in England and was appointed resident surgical officer at the Royal Infirmary, Wigan. Dignan enjoyed the odd flutter on the horses, and while working in Wigan he decided to take the opportunity of going to the Grand National at Aintree. Several of his colleagues from the hospital, who were unable to attend the race meeting, gave him money to put on a horse called Sheila’s Cottage. Dignan’s father took the ferry over from Dublin, and they met in a bar at the course, but so busy were they regaling each other with their news, that Dignan didn’t place the bets on in time. Sheila’s Cottage romped home at 66-1. It cost him several months of his wages to pay out his colleagues’ winnings.

In 1950 he was informed by the War Office that he either had to do his national service or return to Ireland. He chose the former and soon found himself posted to Malaya, where the British …

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