My earliest memories of my father, who was a veterinarian, are of him ‘making poor animals better’. There was the dog with a limp that he traced to an ingrowing claw. And there was another dog with a painful, swollen eye, which he cured by removing a badly infected ‘eye’ tooth. How did he find out what to do?
Drawn by the beauty of living things and how one might help them when they go wrong, I became a surgeon. During operations, I’ve been spellbound by the tiny transparent lymph vessels – one of the body’s defences against disease, the beating chambers of the heart, and the brain and nerves so delicate I held my breath.
Ophthalmoscopes often helped me make a diagnosis. They illuminate the interior of the eye, and may reveal, in exquisite magnified detail, the presence of unsuspected disease: diabetes, leukaemia, tumours, infections, cerebral malaria. But the instrument is complex. I invented a simpler and smaller version that slips into a pocket, and is always there when needed. I hope it will help patients, whether human or animal. I am only sorry that I cannot show it to my father, to let him know how he inspired me.