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The nonagenarian graduate: Doctorate in Medicine for 90-year-old Ron Trubuhovich

3 December 2019 Cherie Howie - New Zealand Herald

He’s just graduated with a Doctorate in Medicine aged 90, and there’s no stopping Dr Ron Trubuhovich.

The nonagenarian is already planning his next project, after he received his doctorate at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences graduation on Friday.

His thesis had to stick to a 100,000 word limit, meaning some early chapters on critical care medicine before 1870 had to be chopped. So his next move is to get them published elsewhere.

His findings were of academic interest to a small number, he said.

But the impact of research into critical care medicine could be far-reaching.

Trubuhovich was a pioneer in critical care medicine in New Zealand, working in Auckland Hospital’s Department of Critical Care Medicine for 30 years from 1968, including as chairman.

He retired at 69, because he had to, but that didn’t mean turning to a life of sleep-ins and daytime TV.

“I sleep seven hours a night, that’s enough for everybody.”

First, he was lead author, with Dr James Judson, of a 2001 history of intensive care in New Zealand for the hospital department’s 40th anniversary.

Then he began publishing an average of two papers a year on the wider history of intensive care, methodically seeking evidence for – and correcting – various medical lore from ancient Greece to the 20th century.

His papers included one on Alexander the Great’s famed early tracheotomy – the conqueror supposedly used the tip of his sword to pierce a choking soldier’s throat, but Trubuhovich found no evidence the event occurred. He also wrote a paper on the origins of the 18th century Europe-wide practice of attempted resuscitation by rectal fumigation with tobacco smoke.

Having published a number of papers, he realised he may as well draw on them for a Doctor of Medicine thesis on resuscitation and the origins of intensive care/critical care medicine.

Read more here.