Born: December 21, 1924;

Died: April 3, 2016

DR George McDonald, who has died at his retirement home in Aberdeen aged 91, was one of the world’s leading blood specialists who established the internationally-famous Department of Haematology at Glasgow University.

Born at Cults in Aberdeen, he served in the forces from 1942 until 1947, when he returned to study medicine at Aberdeen

University. He then became a House Surgeon and Senior Research Fellow at Aberdeen Royal infirmary.

It was there that he was awarded his research fellowship to study blood diseases, under the distinguished Professor Harold Fullerton. In 1962 he moved to Glasgow Royal Infirmary where he established the Department of Haematology.

Advancing the research into the causes and treatment of leukaemia, he gained the undying gratitude of sufferers the world over – and they wrote to tell him so. His Bone Marrow Transplant unit was opened by Her Royal Highness, Princess Diana, and many of the medical trainees from that department have gone on to hold senior positions in haematology throughout the world.

Leukaemia is the disease in which the white cells of the blood kill off the healthy red cells. Previously, a bone marrow transplant had to come from a blood relative, many of whom were simply not suitable. Since his Aberdeen days of 20 years earlier, Dr McDonald had been working on a theory that you could perhaps treat the patient with his own bone marrow, taken from his body on “a good day.”

This all came to light in the 1980s, despite the modesty of Dr McDonald and one of his consultants, Dr Alan K. Burnett. They were able to present a social worker from Paisley, whose brother and sister were found to be unsuitable donors. But when he heard what was happening at Glasgow Royal Infirmary he volunteered for the treatment, having been told that he had about two months to live.

The treatment worked - and he was soon back at his job, “feeling fit as a fiddle,” as he said joyfully. It was the beginning of a whole new era for leukaemia sufferers.

Dr McDonald was founder-member of the British Society for Haematology, which led to visiting professorships across the world, from Toronto, Hamilton, Nairobi and Kuwait to Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, Australia.

Having written Atlas of Haematology, he was awarded the Lancet Trophy for the best medical book of the year, published in eight different languages. He was also a regular contributor to the full range of medical journals.

With part of his youth spent in Fochabers, he enjoyed nothing better than a day’s fishing on the River Spey, with his close friend Gordon Baxter of Baxter Soups. For 25 years he had a holiday home at Kincraig on Speyside.

His love of sport began with the Dandy Dons, as a season ticket-holder at Pittodrie in his student days, and continued throughout his career. His passion for Aberdeen Football Club is remembered by the family, not least for the fact that he was to be found at Pittodrie when his first son, Graham, was born. As a keen golfer, he was also a member of both Royal Aberdeen and Newtonmore Golf Clubs.

During his Glasgow days he lived in Milngavie and was ordained as an elder at the local St Pauls Parish Church. On his return to retire in Aberdeen in 1992, he lived in Bieldside, later moving to Earls Court Gardens, where he died.

Dr McDonald was married to Margaret at King’s College Chapel, Aberdeen in 1958, when she was a nursing sister at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. He is survived by Margaret, two sons and a daughter. His son Graham is a senior executive with Aberdeen Asset Management in London, while Neil is similarly engaged with Coca Cola in Bangkok. Elizabeth is a Macmillan nurse in Aberdeenshire.

A man of quiet charm, Dr McDonald requested a private family funeral before being buried in Morayshire - at Aberlour, on the banks and within casting distance of his beloved River Spey.