N.B.: The detail displayed about each honorary degree recipient varies, as
the database was compiled from a variety of sources. However, more information may
be available at the University Archives.
Convocation date: May 11, 1970
Discipline / contribution: medicine - pediatrics
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Chancellor, on behalf of the Council and Senate, I present to you Dr. Bruce Chown.Degree received: Doctor of Laws
Dr. Chown was born in Winnipeg in 1893, served as an artillery officer in the First World War, obtained his MD at the University of Manitoba in 1922, trained at Hopkins and the Columbia Medical Centre, and then in 1926 joined the Winnipeg Children’s Hospital first as pathologist and then as Head and Chairman of the Department of Paediatrics. During the ensuing years he saw many newborn babies die of deep jaundice or of a severe and unexplained anaemia. In 1940 the Rh blood factor was discovered, by 1941 it was proved to be the main cause of the hitherto unexplained jaundice and anaemia, and by 1942 Dr. Chown was telling his medical confreres about the cause of this new disease. He quickly established a laboratory where Rh grouping could be carried out. He also made a point of attending the deliveries of the babies at risk, to better study the effects of this factor on them. In 1945 he supervised the first exchange transfusion in Manitoba. For the next several years he and his helpmate Dr. Marian Lewis travelled the length and breadth of Manitoba, summer and winter, exchanging the bloods and saving the lives of numberless Rh babies. He little by little established the best investigative and treatment centre for this disease not only in Canada but also on the whole of the American continent. He retired early in 1954 at the age of 61 to concentrate on research and its application to the further saving of human lives. The 15 years that followed his retirement have in fact been even more productive than the many years which preceded it. He is now helping to write the final chapter of the Rh problem and when he eventually decides to retire from his retirement it is probable that the Rh negative woman will no longer have to give birth to diseased Rh positive babies. Honours too numerous to enumerate have come his way. In honouring him this afternoon the University is honouring itself.
Eminent Chancellor, I present to you Dr. Bruce Chown and ask that you will confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
Degree presented by: J.W. Gerrard, Head of Paediatrics
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