Intended for healthcare professionals


Jim Dornan: senior vice president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Northern Ireland’s pre-eminent obstetrician for four decades

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: (Published 07 April 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n909
  1. Penny Warren
  1. London, UK
  1. warrenpenny788{at}
Photo credit: Jess Dornan-Lynas

Talking to his houseman on a plane flying home, Harith Lamki suggested the young man make a career in obstetrics and gynaecology. Jim Dornan took the advice and, Lamki says, “The rest is history. He bloomed!”

Dornan was chair of fetal medicine at Queen’s University Belfast; he set up the research charity Northern Ireland Mother and Baby Appeal (NIMBA, now TinyLife); and was a leading figure at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. In a stellar career spanning four decades, his research into detecting high risk babies in low risk mothers helped change the landscape of obstetrics, saving many babies from stillbirth. Dornan said, “When we formed NIMBA in 1988 the perinatal mortality rate was 30 per 1000. Our role used to be like that of firemen. Now, given how much we know about the baby before birth, we’re more like fire prevention officers.”

Early days

Dornan was born in Holywood, County Down. His father—also Jim—was the general manager of the Incorporated Cripples Institutes (now HarmonI), where the family lived and …

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