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Medical expert in tribute to Aldwick life-saving pioneer

A LATE Aldwick man’s role in developing a vital medical procedure has been praised by a leading expert.


As reported last week, Doug Fielder played a crucial role in turning the potential for using the properties of sound for medical diagnosis into reality.


Mr Fielder’s funeral was held on Monday at St Richard’s Church, close to his home in Aldwick. He passed away on January 7, at the age of 86.


Susan Halson-Brown, the programme director medical ultrasound of King’s College London, said the contribution of Mr Fielder and other pioneers had largely been forgotten as their vision had been incorporated seemlessly into daily medical practice.


“Doug Fielder was to the field of medical ultrasound what Alistair McKee was to the Mary Rose project, a quiet man, there at the beginning and hugely instrumental in the success of the project but content to let others take the recognition.


“He remained interested in medical physics and electronics right up to his death and has left a legacy to the field of medical ultrasound through the many people still within the field whose origins were from the company he helped to found, Sonicaid Ltd.


“We take ultrasound examination very much for granted, with 9.3m examinations taking place each year, growing at a rate of about eight per cent a year.


“Alongside conventional projectional radiography (X-ray), ultrasound is one of the most available diagnostic tests to GPs and has become an integral part of obstretic care through the fetal anomaly screening programme.


“We should remember those early pioneers, like Doug Fielder, as we owe them a debt of gratitude which will never be repaid,” said Mrs Halson-Brown.


She said one of the most important developments in obstetric ultrasound technology, the ultrasound fetal heart detector, was developed in a garage/workshop in Bognor Regis, using an OXO cube tin as its prototype housing.


Commercially developed by Sonicaid, a Bognor Regis company which moved to Chichester and Livingstone in Scotland,  the Sonicaid D102 became the first in a series of fetal surveillance machines initially developed by Doug Fielder, Frank Baker and Ronnie Cowan which revolutionised obstetric care and won a Design Council award for medical electronics in 1976.


Sonicaid’s continued research led to a second in 1980 for the Sonicaid System 8000 which took the technology further.


Mr Fielder’s move to St Richard’s Hospital enabled him to continue his research, initially with a forerunner of today’s 3D ultrasound technology.


He was also involved in the screening pilot at Chichester for the life-threatening condition of abdominal aorta aneurysm which was adopted nationally in 2011.

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