Prof. David Cahill - Professor in Medical Education and Reproductive Medicine, University of Bristol
We chat to UCC alum and leading gynaecologist, Prof. David Cahill who made history when he delivered a baby gorilla by caesarean. Vets at Bristol Zoo turned to Prof. Cahill, when the gorilla’s mother showed signs of life-threatening pre-eclampsia. Thanks to the expertise of Prof. Cahill and his team, the baby gorilla was delivered safely and now resides with her family at Bristol zoo.
Course/subjects studied in UCC
I did the 6 year undergraduate course in Medicine, starting in 1975 and graduating in 1981.
Best memory of UCC
No single one – sitting under the trees studying in summer time in what was then called the President’s Lawn, the Boat Race and flour bombs, weekends away in Glenflesk with the canoeing club.
How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
I got a great grounding in anatomy and physiology, which really stood to me when doing postgraduate exams in later life – I didn’t struggle with those subjects.
What is your advice to current UCC students?
It might be difficult to understand why the school makes you learn something – you might struggle to understand why, but nothing you learn is of no consequence and it will all come back to you. And … your classmates are your friends for life – 35 years on, my graduating class all met up last April and enjoyed seeing where we have all got to.
What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
Before I went to UCC it would have been my secondary school Maths teacher, Mr PJ Doherty. Now from medical school, probably Prof Jack Sheehan (Physiology) and his technician Bernard Allen (later a TD), and then Dr Tim O’Connor (gynaecologist) and Prof David Jenkins (obstetrician) (perhaps that’s a bit obvious as I did O&G) and Prof Liam Kirwan (Surgery) whose acerbic wit over the operating table taught me to keep my elbows together and my mouth shut.
Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
I took up canoeing early in my undergraduate life and even got to represent the University but that wasn’t hard – we just had to drive to Coleraine and get in a river and paddle. My brother and I did the Liffey Descent while we were students – a more memorable event. Towards the end of my time in UCC, I joined the Bible Union as it was called then, and that was something that stayed with me all my life.
Favourite UCC legend or superstition
Didn’t know there were any! But there were rumours when we used to study in the Med Library which was next door to the dissecting room in Anatomy of strange rumblings just before closing time.