Article from 2022/2023 Impact of Giving Annual Report
A legacy spanning almost 80 years: that’s the McDonald family’s connection with the RCH. Their family’s story is one marked by dedication, service and a shared commitment to the wellbeing of children.
The family’s journey started during the challenging times of World War II, when Dorothy Hogg began her nursing training. In 1946, Ian McDonald graduated from a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, and spent a few years as a resident, admitting officer and surgical registrar at The Melbourne Hospital and The Children’s Hospital.
The couple met at The Children’s Hospital when Dorothy was a theatre sister and Ian was a surgical registrar, although he soon recognised the importance of the developing specialty of anaesthesia.They married in 1950 before heading to the UK on a Nuffield Scholarship with Jan, their first child in tow, for several years at the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford. “We grew up in a happy household. Our father was rarely home before seven. We were in our mid teens when we realised that it was not normal to have a father who left home before seven, was home after seven, and was often called out at nights,” said Jan and Sue.
“The hospital at the time was a very different place. The nurses were often scrubbing floors and most of the actual nursing was done by trainees. “There’s one story about our mother when she was a junior nurse on night duty during World War II, and she and her senior colleague put the kettle on to have a cup of tea. But, they got busy, forgot about the kettle and left it on the gas ring, which caused it to melt. If a nurse broke something at the time, they had to replace it, although doctors seemed to be excused this expense if they broke something.
“During the war, kettles couldn’t be had for love nor money, so the two nurses went traipsing through the streets of Carlton. Eventually, they stopped at a factory front and told their story to the staff, who felt so sorry for them that they gave them their kettle,” the daughters shared.
Reflecting on their mother’s wisdom, they added, “I remember something our mother always said: ‘What is it that defines the hospital? It’s the children.’”
Following her parents’ footsteps, Sue joined the RCH as a nurse, where she furthered the family’s goal – to provide the best care possible to every young patient who walked through the hospital’s doors. “Each time I’ve walked down Gatehouse Street I’ve thought, ‘I’m coming home.’” Ian and Dorothy’s connections with the RCH continued through their youngest child, Andrew, who sadly died in 2021. He was a patient on several occasions for various illnesses and injuries.
The McDonald family has generously donated $200,000 towards nursing research and anaesthesia and pain management research, ensuring that future generations of children will receive state of the art clinical care and compassionate support.
“It might be your child needing the support, or your grandchild, your neighbour’s child or your colleague’s child. And by donating, you’ve helped a number of different families,” shared Jan and Sue.
In essence, the McDonald family’s legacy has touched countless lives, creating a pattern of care that will continue over the years. “With the research we’re supporting, it’s about sick children getting home as soon as they can, to their own bed and toys, where Mum will make their toast into little soldiers with vegemite. It is about supporting the children of Victoria, of Australia, and ultimately of the world.”