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About Sickkids
About SickKids

Alan Brown

He was strong, aggressive, domineering, and dedicated. When he first presented himself to the hospital in the fall of 1914, he told the doctors he didn't like what was happening to babies. Too many were dying, especially of intestinal tract diseases. Although he was only 27 year old, Dr. Alan Brown never had a doubt in the world that he was always right.

Dr. Brown was determined to find out as much as he could about the treatment of babies. His colleagues, on the other hand, didn't want "a European-trained baby feeder telling us what to do." So Dr. Brown tried another method, he went directly to the head man himself, John Ross Robertson, and said, "Put me in charge and I'll cut your death rate in half."

Dr. Brown joined the active staff of The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) as Attending Physician, Infants Department, in early 1915. On June 2, 1919 the hospital's Trustees appointed him Physician-in-Chief, fulfilling his dream at last. He supervised the treatment of every medical patient and many of the surgical patients. Part of his job also involved lecturing to medical students at the University of Toronto.

He was positive that feeding babies cows' milk often caused trouble, saying "cows milk is for calves." He sternly urged mothers to breastfeed their babies. He insisted on establishing a research facility to discover what was best for infants. This would later lead to one of the hospital's greatest achievements.

By February 1951, SickKids had moved to its sixth and present location. As for Dr. Brown, he had accomplished his greatest goal, surviving attempts of some to "phase it out." It remained what it always had been, a hospital devoted entirely to the care and treatment of sick children and for the training of physicians and surgeons. He thought it was time to turn the job over to someone else. He had been the head of the hospital for 32 years. Near the end of October 1951, he resigned as Physician-in-Chief.

Robertson had hired Dr. Brown to reduce the infant mortality rate and he had done that and more. He never asked anyone to do anything that he himself would not do.

After his retirement he continued to serve on the consulting staff and carried on with his private practice. He remained the complete authority on child care for hundreds of mothers until his death, one summer day in 1960. He was 72.