Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 2.djvu/518

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Macan
Macan
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MACAN, Sir ARTHUR VERNON (1843–1908), gynæcologist and obstetrician, born at 9 Mountjoy Square, Dublin, on 30 Jan. 1843, was eldest of three sons in a family of five children of John Macan, of a co. Sligo family, who was formerly a scholar of Trinity College, Dublin (1809), and became a leading Q.C. on the Connaught circuit, and first commissioner in bankruptcy in the High Court in Ireland. His mother, Maria Perrin, was daughter of a Liverpool merchant of Huguenot extraction. Of his brothers Jameson John Macan (d. 1910) for several years assisted in editing the 'British Gynæcological Journal'; and Reginald Walter Macan became Master of University College, Oxford, in 1906.

Arthur Macan was educated at St. Columba's College (1858–9), co. Dublin, entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1859, and graduated B.A. in December 1864. He studied medicine in the School of Physic, Trinity College, and at the House of Industry Hospital. He proceeded M.B. and M.Ch. in 1868, and took the degree of M.A.O. in 1877. Having joined a class in London with a view to entering the army medical service, he changed his mind, and early in 1869 he went to Berlin. The next three years were spent in intermittent study abroad, working under Langenbeck, Hebra, Braun, Rokitansky, and others. He varied his work by prolonged walking tours, in one of which he walked from Berlin to Milan and thence to Vienna. A tour through Sicily and Greece brought him to Constantinople. In 1870 he served as volunteer with the Prussian army, and was at Versailles when the royal palace was used as a German military hospital. Returning to Dublin in 1872, he was appointed assistant physician at the Rotunda Lying-in Hospital, and after three years' tenure of this post was elected gynæcologist to the City of Dublin Hospital.

In 1877 he was elected fellow of the King and Queen's College of Physicians, Ireland, and in 1878 was appointed lecturer in midwifery in the Carmichael school of medicine. His chief opportunity came in 1862, when he succeeded Lombe Atthill [q. v. Suppl. II] as master of the Rotunda Hospital, a post which is the prize of the obsteiric profession in the United Kingdom.

Macan, who throughout life was a radical and a reformer, found, on his return from abroad, obstetric practice in the United Kingdom far behind that on the Continent. He set himself to introduce the newer methods, in face of the opposition of the profession. He and other progressives were dubbed the 'German band,' and treated with scant courtesy at medical meetings. But their teachings have become the commonplaces of obstetric practice. Macan was one of the earliest in the kingdom to apply Listerian principles in midwifery, and later substituted, as far as possible, aseptic for antiseptic methods. He became master of the Rotunda Hospital at a time when there was serious debate whether the very existence of maternity hospitals was justified, on account of the terrible mortality from puerperal sepsis. Macan vigorously developed the reforms which had been instituted by his predecessor, Atthill. He improved the system of nursing. In the last eighteen months of his term of office there was no death from septic causes. Just before the usual term of seven years at the Rotunda Hospital expired, Macan was elected king's professor of midwifery in the School of Physic, Trinity College, a post which carried with it the duties of obstetric physician and gynæcologist to Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital. From 1902 to 1904 he was president of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, and in 1903 he was knighted. He was also president of the British Gynæcological Society (1890), of the section of obstetrics of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland (1886–7; 1899–1901), and of the obstetric section of the British Medical Association in 1887. He was honorary president of the obstetric section of the International Congress of Medicine in Berlin in 1890, and of the Congress of Gynæcology and Obstetrics in Geneva in 1896, and in Amsterdam in 1899. It was by Macau's personal force of character that he mainly influenced the development of obstetrics in the United Kingdom. Although he wrote no book, he published between 1872 and 1908 no fewer than seventy reports and communications from his pen in the 'Dublin Journal of Medical Science' alone. Many others appeared elsewhere.

He died on 26 Sept. 1908 of heart failure at his residence, 53 Merrion Square, Dublin. He was buried in Mount Jerome cemetery, Dublin. Of robust physique, he was fond