Retired Professor of Surgical Paediatrics.

Born: November 22, 1932; Died: October 20, 2013

Dan Young, who has died aged 80, was a man of boundless compassion whose reputation for always striving to do the best for each of "his children" stretched around the globe.

Both a skilful, ground-breaking surgeon and an admired academic, he became Glasgow University's first professor of surgical paediatrics yet never forgot, or was forgotten by, his patients, many of whom remained in touch for years.

Just weeks before he died, one of his visitors was a mother who had lost her son 14 years earlier. She still remembered him caring for her boy as though he was his own.

A further mark of the esteem in which he was held was the renaming of the Glasgow unit, where he worked for more than 20 years, as the Dan Young Neonatal Surgical Unit. A support centre, run by the Scottish Spina Bifida Association (SSBA), which he had served as honorary president, also bears his name.

"In the real sense of the word Dan had that unique, and sadly now rarely seen, vocation to his profession," said SSBA chief executive Andrew Wynd. "For him, long hours and hard graft were not something to be challenged, but something to be celebrated because in that commitment grew greater understanding and knowledge, greater experience and wisdom - although he would never have acknowledged any of these qualities in himself."

Born in Skipness, Argyll, he grew up on Lower Carbarns Farm, Netherton, outside Wishaw, was educated at Netherton Public School, Wishaw Academy and Wishaw High School.

In 1950 he began his medical studies at Glasgow University and during that time filled in as a locum resident on both the medical and surgical side at the city's Royal Hospital for Sick Children. This was when he first became aware of the multiple health problems and high mortality rate of babies born with congenital defects, an experience that inspired him to specialise in this field.

Following his graduation in 1956, he completed his national service on a special short service commission to the Ghanaian government, where he was in charge of the medical reception station at a recruiting centre in Kumasi.

From there he went to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, gaining a diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene, before returning to Glasgow to become an assistant lecturer in the university's physiology department. From 1961-64 he was a registrar in surgery, during which time he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh.

There then followed a spell at the world-famous Hospital for Sick Children at Great Ormond Street in London where he was a senior registrar and resident assistant surgeon. In the late 1960s he was a senior lecturer in paediatric surgery at London's Institute of Child Health and honorary consultant surgeon at Great Ormond Street and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children in Hackney.

He returned north in 1969 to head of the department of surgical paediatrics at Glasgow University, based at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children. In 1971 the hospital's state-of-the-art neonatal surgical unit was established at Yorkhill and the following year he became a Fellow of The Royal College of Surgeons in Glasgow.

His career spanned an era of many advances in his speciality and in the 1960s and 70s he was involved in the introduction of the first shunts to control hydrocephalus in newborns, a procedure that hugely enhanced the life expectancy of significant numbers of babies born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. He also treated a wide range of other conditions including deformities such as cleft lip and palate.

While developing a fine paediatric surgery department, he had also cemented his reputation as an excellent educator, training surgeons from all over the world and helping to establish the specialty of paediatric surgery in various countries. He was an honorary member of associations of paediatric surgeons in Hungary, Egypt, South Africa and America, as well as a visiting lecturer to Japanese and Australasian organisations, and was awarded a doctorate from the University of Wroclaw for his contribution in Poland and internationally.

During the 1980s he chaired the committee that oversaw the establishment of the Intercollegiate FRCS in paediatric surgery and was an examiner in all the fellowship and membership examinations of the British Royal Colleges of Surgeons for more than 30 years.

He was the British editor of the Journal of Pediatric Surgery for 17 years and had also contributed to and written numerous papers and books including A History of Surgical Paediatrics, Baby Surgery, and Children's Medicine and Surgery.

In 1992 he was appointed Glasgow University's first professor of surgical paediatrics, a role he held for six years. He retired from clinical practice at the same time but remained an influential emeritus professor, regularly teaching students at the bedside for another decade and mentoring numerous young surgeons.

A fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, he was president of the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons and the British Society for the History of Paediatrics and Child Health, holding the latter post until recently.

He was also honorary president of the Scottish Spina Bifida Association for 30 years but was somewhat bemused, said Andrew Wynd, when its National Family Support Centre in Cumbernauld was named after him as a lasting tribute to his dedication.

Predeceased by his wife Nan and grandson Euan, he is survived by his daughter Rhoda, son Kenneth and five grandchildren.