• Bruce Chown
    1893 - 1986

Dr. H. Bruce Chown began work at the University of Manitoba in 1925, assuming a number of positions, including Head of the Department of Pediatrics, the first in Canada. In 1944, he received a grant of $1,200 from the Canadian National Research Council to study Rh Disease. With this money, he hired Marion Lewis and established the Winnipeg Rh Laboratory.1

Dr. Chown, as Director of the Winnipeg Rh Laboratory from 1944 to 1972, spent much of his time researching erythoblastosis fetalis (Rh Disease). Early delivery of infants affected by Rh Disease was well documented by Chown by 1958.2



University of Manitoba, College of Medicine Archives

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University of Manitoba, College of Medicine Archives


After Dr. Louis Diamond (Boston Children's Hospital) developed a method of providing a blood transfusion to newborns with Rh Disease, Chown brought the method to Winnipeg. He performed the first exchange transfusion in 1945. This was the medical standard until 1963, when Dr. William Liley of New Zealand performed the first intrauterine blood transfusion.3

Later, Chown, along with Dr. John M. Bowman and Dr. Alvin Zirpursky, developed an Rh antibody processed from the plasma of Rh negative women, which produced an Rh immune globulin. Chown organized clinical trials of the Rh immune globulin, which was licensed for use in Canada in 1968. With this discovery, mothers could receive treatment for Rh disease before birth.4

Chown retired in 1977 and later passed away on July 3, 1986.


1. Bowman, Dr. John M. "Dr. Bruce Chown and the Winnipeg Rh Laboratory: From Tragedy to Triumph." Journal SOGH, vol. 19, no. 1, January 1997, 59-68.

2. "Profiles: Bruce Chown." CMA Journal, Vol. 124, April 15, 1981, 1079.

3. Wigod, Rebecca. "Babies' friend made the Rx for Rh." Times-Colonist, June 28, 1983.

4. "In Memoriam: Dr. Bruce Chown, 1893-1986." Manitoba Medicine, vol. 57, no. 3, Fall 1987, 93.