Intended for healthcare professionals


Henry Halliday

BMJ 2023; 380 doi: (Published 26 January 2023) Cite this as: BMJ 2023;380:p186
  1. Alan Craft

Up until the 1980s the outcome for babies born very prematurely was poor. The main reason for this was that their lungs were not well developed and they lacked surfactant. Without it the lungs collapse and the baby struggles to breathe. The fetal lungs normally begin to produce this essential substance between 24 and 28 weeks of gestational life. Halliday worked with colleagues in Cambridge, Norway, and Sweden to produce a surfactant that could be delivered to a newborn’s lungs immediately after birth. Other types of surfactant were also developed. Halliday was at the forefront of major international trials to determine which was the optimum product and how it should be delivered. His work defined the standard of treatment used throughout the world which has dramatically improved survival of premature babies, saving countless lives. Alan Jobe, professor of paediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the US commented that Henry was a true gentleman and that his surfactant work was …

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