Norman Bethune

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Henry Norman Bethune (March 3, 1890 – November 12, 1939; Chinese name: ; pinyin: Bái Qiúēn) was a Canadian physician and medical innovator. Bethune is best known for his service in war time medical units during the Spanish Civil War and with the People's Liberation Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. He developed the first mobile blood-transfusion service in Spain in 1936.[1] A Communist, he wrote that wars were motivated by profits, not principles. [2]


Family history

Dr. Norman Bethune came from a prominent Scottish Canadian family. His great great grandfather, the Reverend John Bethune (1751–1815), was the family patriarch and established the first Presbyterian Church in Montreal. Norman Bethune’s great grandfather, Angus Bethune (1783–1858), joined the North West Company at an early age and traveled extensively throughout the north western territories, exploring and trading for furs. He eventually reached the Pacific at Fort Astoria, Oregon. He became chief factor of the Lake Huron district for the Hudson's Bay Company after the merger of the rival companies. Upon retirement from the HBC in 1839 he successfully ran for Alderman of Toronto City Council.[3]

Norman’s grandfather, also named Norman (1822–92), was educated as a doctor at King's College, University of Toronto, and in London, England at Guy's Hospital, graduating in 1848 as a member of the Royal College of Physicians. Upon his return to Canada, he became one of the founders of the Upper Canada School of Medicine,[4] which was incorporated into Trinity College, Toronto and eventually the University of Toronto.

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