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Colin Walker: early pioneer of neonatal intensive care who developed national database for newborn infants

BMJ 2024; 384 doi: (Published 13 March 2024) Cite this as: BMJ 2024;384:q635
  1. Penny Warren
  1. Salisbury, UK
  1. warrenpenny788{at}

When paediatrician Colin Walker began his career, the care of frail newborns consisted of little more than keeping them warm and offering fluids. Walker, who has died aged 100, was instrumental in a huge sea change in neonatal care. He pioneered an intensive care service in Tayside, establishing the special care unit at Dundee Royal Infirmary, and he set up a computerised clinical data collection service for babies—initially in Scotland and then serving the whole of the UK.

While training at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London in the 1950s, Walker became interested in cardiology. He was very methodical and deft at carrying out practical procedures such as cardiac catheterisation to detect abnormalities of the heart. In 1957, he was offered a secondment for a year to the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth, Australia, where he set up the hospital’s first cardiac catheterisation unit.

He was then invited to become a paediatric cardiologist at the University of Colorado in Denver, US. Here he developed a pioneering technique to help babies who were …

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