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Runa Mackay

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 31 July 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3008
  1. Graham Watt,
  2. Lesley Morrison

After spending her childhood in Hull, where her father was an ophthalmologist, Runa Mackay graduated in medicine from the University of Edinburgh in 1944. Some of her earliest clinical experiences as a medical student were in the last few years before the introduction of the NHS at the Livingstone Dispensary for Edinburgh’s poor, run by the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society (EMMS) in the city’s Cowgate.

In 1954, while coming to the end of a period as professorial medical registrar at the Manchester Children’s Hospital, she received a letter from a doctor at the EMMS hospital in Nazareth, asking if anyone could do a locum for him while he took six months’ leave. Runa was free at the time and offered her services, as a paediatrician rather than as a missionary. Originally planning to stay for six months, she stayed 30 years, finding that “work in Nazareth could become my life’s …

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