DR LUCY BRYCE (1897 - 1968)

HAEMATOLOGIST AND BLOOD TRANSFUSION PIONEER, WALTER & ELIZA HALL INSTITUTE

Lucy Bryce was one of just a handful of women to graduate with a medical degree during the 1920s. As a science student at the University of Melbourne during World War I, she had seen the urgent need for doctors brought by the war and decided to alter her career path. It was a decision that would see Dr Lucy Bryce become a pioneer of Australian medicine.

After a short period at the Lister Institute in London, Dr Bryce joined the Royal Melbourne Hospital as its first full-time bacteriologist and clinical pathologist. This was a time before antibiotics, and bacterial infections were a significant cause of illness and death.

But the work for which Dr Bryce is best known began in 1929 when she became honorary director of the Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service at the Royal Melbourne Hospital – Australia’s first blood bank. It was through her work with this innovative service that Dr Bryce would go on to save thousands of lives.

Her vision brought blood banks and transfusion services to Australian soldiers and civilians throughout World War II. The blood bank stockpiled for civilian needs in preparation for a potential air attack on Australia. During the war Dr Bryce held the rank of major at the 115th Australian General Hospital, Heidelberg, where she was a visiting specialist.

Dr Lucy Bryce’s contributions to Melbourne’s clinical and research sector have been widely recognised. Her awards include the Commander of the British Empire (CBE), honorary life membership of the Australian Red Cross and inclusion on the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2001.The Central Blood Bank in Melbourne now has a room named after her – the Lucy Bryce Hall.

There is also a crater on the planet Venus named in her honour.

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Illustrated by Antra Svarcs