Polly put the Pulse Oximeter on Part 1

1993, I have owned a real company for about a week and suddenly the phone is ringing! Shocked I answer..”Thames Medical how can I help you?”

“I understand you can help me monitor a patient…who isn’t human” said the voice on the other end.


This has to be a wind up I think, who outside of a few colleagues from my previous company knew of the work I had done in 1987 in The Lion The Dentist and the Pulse Oximeter, this long before blogs and social media and the internet?

I called the company I was collaborating with, Pace Tech in Florida, and asked them if I could make a few changes to their multi parameter monitor.  They agreed and so using my original data from 86/87 a few short weeks later I was off to Ireland to meet my new client, to spend a week teaching him and his team, how to monitor some of the top race horses in Ireland under Anaesthesia. I had a fabulous time there and learnt so much.

Returning home I sent one of the pictures I took to the Veterinary Times who ran the picture and a short column article. I received 6 phone calls from people Vets who wanted to know more about this strange thing called a Pulse Oximeter and what could it do for them..

The 6th Vet I met, was the company Vet for a company who were just about to launch a new anaesthetic drug on the veterinary market..Propofol…a drug I knew well from many years previously when I helped The Dentist and the Milk of Human kindness..

The thrust of the drug launch was to be safety in anaesthesia and the time was right or was it?

Hall and Clarke had just published Mortality in Small Animal Anaesthesia and here was this “new” safe wonder drug..but one piece was missing…the level of anaesthetic monitoring..could this really be the Pulse Oximeter and could it really be the one I had in my bag…

This was to be decided by a certain Dr Taylor of Cambridge University.

A meeting was organised and I drove up to Cambridge meeting the company rep Graham Walsh. I remember the day well, we were ushered into what is now a document store but what was then X-Ray where I was invited to set up the pulse oximeter initially on a dog. I was asked lots of questions by lots of interesting and interested people but after a couple of hours I was beginning to get a little frustrated.  I conveyed this to Graham and was told to be quiet!

scan22I explained that I had come all this way to meet Dr Taylor and up till then still hadn’t met him! ( I was just about to give up on the whole Veterinary thing and concentrate on the pre hospital/ trauma field I so enjoyed).

I learnt so much that day!

Dr Polly Taylor turned out to be one the most agreeable, positive and knowledgeable persons I have met, she had already evaluated the pulse oximeter and the special lingual probe I had built and had ordered 6!

With her agreement came the sign off from the drug company that they would work with me and together we would all promote “Safety in Anaesthesia” and so Thames Medical grew a dedicated Veterinary Anaesthesia Monitoring arm, shortly later I was invited to join the Association Of Veterinary Anaesthetists and the work that had been so viscously condemned by my boss 6 years  previously was going to be used after all.

We changed the way we do anaesthesia today, thank you Polly.