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Dr Margaret MacDonald, acupuncture pioneer

Doctor was inspired after watching programme which showed treatment given to a cow

09 February, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Dr Margaret McDonald

DR Margaret MacDonald, who has died aged 87, was working for the RAF testing and treating pilots’ eyes when her life took an interesting twist.

Watching a Tomorrow’s World television special, the medically-trained ophthalmologist saw acupuncture being performed on a cow – and decided to find out more. She took an acupuncture course in this country and later, in 1981, travelled to China to hone her new skills.

“After she came back she evaluated the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating pilots who were not responding to conventional treatments,” said her son, Rod Parker-Rees. “But her managers told her it was not approved and that she had to stop. She ended up resigning from the RAF and setting up a private acupuncture practice from her home. She later worked in the Royal Free Hospital delivering acupuncture in pain clinics there.”

Dr MacDonald had for most of her life been inspired by the radical poet William Blake and was an enthusiastic member of the Blake Society, holding a reading group at her home in Grafton Terrace. Born in Singapore in 1931, she moved to Colchester with her mother after her father died when she was six months old. After medical training she moved to Portugal and Zimbabwe –which was then Rhodesia – with her husband and worked in a hospital in Salisbury, Harare, before coming back to London in 1963 with her four children – Fiona, John, Rod and Guy.

Dr MacDonald lived in Belsize Park Gardens before moving to Grafton Terrace, Queen’s Crescent, where she lived for most of her life. She loved to watch films at the British Film Institute (BFI), she would attend the opera whenever she could get tickets and she loved the free concerts at St Martin-in-the-Fields. Dr MacDonald was also a keen year-round outdoor swimmer, and was a regular at the Hampstead Heath ponds. ­

Those who knew her are invited to contact the family by emailing .uk or calling 07948 383115 if they would like to go attend a memorial event on February 20.


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