Canadian Medical Lives
Series edited by T.P. Morley, M.D.
Maudie of McGill: Dr. Maude Abbott and the Foundations of Heart Surgery
By: Douglas Waugh
Published: Dundurn Press (1992)
Maude Elizabeth Seymour Babin daughter of a possibly murderous father and a mother who died of tuberculosis shortly after Maude's birth, had the good fortune to come under the care of her widowed maternal grandmother, who adopted Maude and her older sister Alice and changed their names to Abbott by an act of Parliament.
Grandmother Abbott created a loving home and instilled in the girls a strength of character and a love of learning. Basic education was provided by tutors, and later the ambitious Maude was allowed to attend McGill for her undergraduate degree in arts. When she decided to enter medicine her grandmother gave her full support.
Huge odds confronted any woman in the late nineteenth century who aspired to do "a mans work,' and Maude was not allowed to attend medical school at McGill but received her medical degree from the more liberal Bishop's University. She returned to her alma mater, McGill, and developed a career under the guidance of her hero, Sir William Osler, that gained her an international reputation as a world authority on congenital heart disease.
During her career as curator at the McGill Medical Museum, Maude founded the International Association of Medical Museums, the predecessor of the International Academy of Pathology. In spite of her international reputation. Maude had to struggle for recognition at McGill. Recognition finally came with an honorary doctorate and a scholarship presented in her name by McGill.
Her intelligence, her fortitude and sense of purpose, her ebullient generous nature, and a certain artless charm created an indelible impression on those around her, who remember her fondly as Maudie of McGill.'
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