COUNTY NEWS: Medical pioneer was '˜modest man'

The man who made the first fetal heart monitor and developed ultrasound scanning has died at the age of 86.

Doug Fielder on his 80th birthday, six years before he died
Doug Fielder on his 80th birthday, six years before he died

Electrical engineer Doug Fielder was a medical pioneer, working for years on equipment that would help women and their unborn children.

It all started from his home in Rose Green, where he and his wife Doreen started a small business at the back of the bakery.

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She said: “His first thing was the fetal heart monitor and the ultrasound came later. He also developed things for the music industry, including the Topaz tremalo.

“His main interest was with the monitoring and he even created one for the vets.

“My husband had the brains but he didn’t have the money. He was the man behind it all but he had to get investors to take it further.”

The firm Sonicaid was set up, working with specialists at St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester, and Zachary Merton Hospital, Rustington, to perform the world’s first ultrasound.

The technique uses sound vibrations to reveal a picture and has since become an essential part of the treatment of pregnant women. Mr Fielder also used it to help women trying to get pregnant, by identifying the best times to conceive.

Doreen added: “He loved his work. He just loved that he could help pregnant women and help women when they couldn’t get pregnant. He was very modest and he was very family orientated.”

Doug moved to the south coast from Muswell Hill with his parents in 1953 and soon met Doreen, who was a babysitter for the family next door.

They married in 1955 and lived in St Richard’s Way, Rose Green, all their married life, bringing up three children - two daughters, Jo and Jackie, and a son, Chris, who has Down’s syndrome. They later had four grandchildren.

Doug was working on his monitor before Jo was born and Doreen remembers the first one was in an Oxo tin. The family even still has the prototypes.

He gave the first demonstration of early fetal heart movements in 1957 and in 1961, he demonstrated blood flow in the major vessels using Doppler ultrasound.

As medical research director for Sonicaid, Doug introduced Britain’s first commercial ultrasound instrument in 1967, following years of clinical research, and in 1970, presented the first comprehensive ultrasound monitor for use during labour and childbirth.

His work was acclaimed all over the world and Doug was invited to lecture about the use of ultrasound and interpretation of the results in several countries.

He went on to work on clinical research and trials at St Richard’s Hospital for many years.

Doug had his first heart attack in 1992 and retired as manager of the ultrasound department at St Richard’s in 1993 but went back part-time to help set up an ultrasound department at the Bognor Regis hospital.

Jackie said: “He always chose to stay true to his ethics rather than making money. He wanted to benefit children.

“As a family and as his children we were very lucky because he was my dad but he was a man I admired independently.

“They would call him to talk to new parents if they had someone with Down’s so he could offer encouragement. He also always kept up with the latest equipment.”

The funeral service will be held on Monday at 1.30pm at St Richard’s Church, Bognor Regis.

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