Name: Harold Randall Griffith, O.C., B.A., M.D., F.R.C.P.(C)
Convocation date: May 15, 1975
Discipline / contribution: Medicine - anaesthesiology
Citation / biographical information:
Eminent Chancellor:Degree received: Doctor of Laws
I have the honour of introducing Harold Randall Griffith, Officer of the Order of Canada, Doctor of Medicine, Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada, Professor Emeritus of Anaesthesia, McGill University.
Dr. Griffith, born in Montreal in 1894 and educated in that city, numbers amongst the few great pioneers of modern anaesthesia in North America. Having served in the ranks in the Canadian Army Medical Corps during the war of 1914-1918, during which service he was decorated for "Valour In The Field," he returned to the service of his country as Consultant in Anaesthesia to the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. During this latter period he was responsible for the primary training and recruitment to the specialty of a considerable proportion of the senior anaesthetists practising in Canada today. His contribution as a teacher in the specialty was continued in his association with the Department of Anaesthesia of McGill University, of which he was Chairman from 1951 to 1957.
Undoubtedly Dr. Griffith's greatest contribution to medicine and to humanity has been the introduction of the use of curare for the production of muscle relaxation in anaesthesia. As a result of this contribution the whole practice of surgery in all its branches has been revolutionized since 1942. This contribution must be ranked as equal in importance with the demonstration of the anaesthetic properties of ether in the mid-nineteenth century. Without curare and its synthetic derivatives, few if any of the great advances of surgery during the last thirty years would have been possible.
Dr. Griffith's achievement in organizing the World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists in 1955 has been of the greatest conceivable importance to the extension of training in anaesthesia throughout the world, and through this in the extension of the possible applications of surgery to the treatment of disease, particularly in those countries constituting what is frequently referred to as "the Third World."
Dr. Griffith has been honoured by the Fel+rinelli Prize in Medicine of the Academia dei Lincei of Rome (1954), the Henry Hill Hickman Medal of the Royal Society of Medicine (1956), by appointment as an Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Anaesthetists of the Royal College of Surgeons of England (1959), and by being awarded the Canadian Anaesthetists' Society Medal in 1962.
Eminent Chancellor, I ask that you confer on Dr. Griffith the degree of Doctor of Law, honoris causae in absentia.
Degree presented by: G.M. Wyant
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