George B. Maughan, M.D.

George B. Maughan


At the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games, George B. Maughan was a medical student at McGill University Medical School in Montreal. He was the amateur heavyweight-boxing champion of Canada and the Flag bearer of the Canadian Olympic Team. Unfortunately he lost in the semi-final to the eventual Argentinean Gold Medal winner.

However, this turned out to be fortunate. Tom Baskett, in a personal communication from Dr. Maughan, 62 years after event, quotes him, "it was probably the best result because I might have accepted one of several offers to turn pro." He retired from boxing "with a nose broken several times and scars over both eyes." He returned to his medical studies and eventual appointment as Professor and Chairman at McGill University Medical School.

George Burwell Maughan was born in Toronto on the 8th of May 1910. He moved to Montreal at the age of four. He entered Medical School at the age of 17 and graduated M.D., C.M., in 1934. Guided by Dr. John Fraser, he spent a year working on the Endocrinology of Toxemia of Pregnancy which resulted in a MRC. From 1938 to 1939, he worked as Chief Resident at the Royal Victoria Montreal Hospital. Reflecting on this aspect of his career some half century later, he writes "I was in my element….worked in the OR in the morning and in the Out-Patient Department in the afternoon…In one stretch, I did not leave the hospital for six full weeks….It was, I believe, the best year of my life." In 1939, he was appointed to the staff of the Obstetrics and Gynecology of the Royal Victoria Hospital as Assistant Demonstrator.

He volunteered for service during World War II. In the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve he saw convoy duty in the North Atlantic and was appointed Principal Medical Officer on the Cruiser HMCS.

After that he immersed himself in a busy teaching and clinical practice. He set up the first Obstetric Blood and Pooled Plasma Bank. In 1956 he was appointed Professor and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at McGill University. He devoted himself to reducing prenatal mortality. In 1957 he appointed Dr. Robert Usher to build a Neonatal I.C.U. in which he carried out research in Hyaline membrane disease. By 1974 this had reduced perinatal mortality to 4.7/1000 births.

He was known for the "Maughan Maneuver", a procedure he developed to facilitate rotation and delivery of arrested occiput-posterior or transverse positions in the second stage of labor. Using a single blade of DeWees forceps he rotated the head by catching the infant's ear in the fenestration and gently pulling the head to the occiput anterior position.

He had a distinguished career and was an acknowledged leader in his specialty. He was President of the Montreal Obstetrical and Gynecological Society in 1959. In 1962 he was President of the Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Canada. He held the Chairmanship until statutory retirement in 1975. In 1977, McGill appointed him Professor Emeritus.

Dr. Maughan was a towering figure in the department. He ruled on sound, fair and consistent conservative principles. We knew his word was his bond. I worked with him from 1968-75 and although we had many diversionary views, I admired and respected him and we always came to a resolution. He insisted that the Primary Cesarean Section rate should not exceed 4%. He was a stickler for an appropriate dress code for his residents and medical students. He devoted his life to the Women's Pavilion at the Royal Victoria Hospital. He served his patients conscientiously and with compassion; they idolized him.

He was an ardent family man. We extend condolences to his family and its three generations.

Submitted by Robert A. H. Kinch, MB, BSFRCS(C)

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