Portrait of Dame Annie Jean Macnamara (1899-1968)
Annie Jean Macnamara (1899-1968) was a determined and outspoken clinician who successfully combined research, a busy clinical practice and a strong commitment to her patients. She was widely recognised, receiving a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1935 for her outstanding contribution to the care of polio sufferers.
She graduated in 1922 from the University of Melbourne with an MBBS and the Beaney scholarship in surgery, and began her internship at the Melbourne Hospital.
It was after gaining a residency at the Children's Hospital that she first encountered the devastating consequences of polio, and she henceforth dedicated the majority of her career to the treatment and rehabilitation of children suffering from the disease. With Macfarlane Burnet she discovered that there was more than one strain of the polio virus. A fellowship in orthopaedics in the United States honed her skills in physical treatment, and she adapted splints and devices to immobilise, protect and subsequently allow rehabilitation of paralysed limbs. She is also credited with ordering Australia's first artificial respirator during her time overseas.
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