Volume 05 / Issue 04 / December 2017
Professor Robin Sydney Mackwood Ling 7th September 1927-9th October 2017
Professor Robin Ling OBE has died at the age of 90. He will be remembered as a true gentleman, a master hip surgeon, an innovator and a scientist whose research and teaching have influenced surgeons around the world and thereby improved the quality of life for countless patients.
Professor Robin Sydney Mackwood Ling
Robin Sydney Mackwood Ling was born on 7th September 1927 and brought up in the West Riding of Yorkshire where his parents and grandfather were doctors; his grandfather, who looked after the more affluent side of town, was known as “old Dr. Ling”; his father, who cared for residents in the less wealthy areas, was “Dr. Billy”. His mother, Mona, ran the four-man medical practice during the war.
Oxford, and St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington.
Educated in Chelmsford Hall in Eastbourne, Robin was dispatched at the outbreak of war to Canada with his two younger brothers where they lived with the Koerners, a philanthropic family who had emigrated to Canada from central Europe to escape the Nazis.
Throughout his life Robin had a passion for sport. His love of sailing started during his residency at Shawnigan Lake School on Vancouver Island. He and his brothers later persuaded their parents to buy a classic yacht, Veronique. On retirement, he moved to the Dart estuary and fulfilled his life-long ambition of owning his own sailing boat, aptly named Enfin.
On returning to the UK he read medicine at Magdalen College,
It was at St Mary’s that Robin met Mary Steedman who was a casualty nurse. She had been born in South Africa and was preparing to return to Cape Town to read medicine, having been awarded a scholarship. They married after a brief courtship and enjoyed 62 years of a happy and fulfilled marriage.
Robin became interested in hip replacement surgery following his appointment as consultant orthopaedic surgeon at the Princess Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital in Exeter in 1963. There were very few types of hip replacement available in the 1960s and he sought to create an implant that could be securely fixed to the bony skeleton using acrylic bone cement. He collaborated with Dr. Clive Lee, an engineer at the University of Exeter, and designed a different geometry of implant that he believed would optimise fixation and thereby the long-term success of a hip replacement. The surgical instruments that he created allowed the hip to be inserted through the posterior approach, with only one assistant. The first Ling-Lee hip was inserted in 1970 and the Exeter