Trevor I. Robinson was born on August 1, 1937, the first son of Reginald Augustus Robinson and his wife Louise. The couple had two boys and two girls. Trevor’s father was a Sanitary Inspector stationed in Kellitts, Clarendon and he later became a qualified pharmacist in May Pen.
Trevor was sent to Trelawny to Teacher George Samuel Ranglin (who later became President of the Jamaican Senate) to prepare for the Parish Scholarship of Trelawny. He won that scholarship which gave him a full place at Munro College.
He entered Munro in 1949 and was put in Lower Third, now First Form. At that time, a son of Teacher Ranglin was a sixth former and prefect at Munro. Trevor started his academic career well for both he and Burchell Whiteman skipped second form and went into third form in 1950, then called Lower Fourth.
He took part in the usual pranks of student life breaking bounds, sneaking through the bush to Jackie Lyttle’s shop, surviving the whipping of two hundred or so strokes of the dreaded gauntlet meted out by fifth formers to upper fourth boys. Despite these diversions, he was successful in School Certificate (1952) and Higher Schools examinations in 1952 and 1954 respectively, majoring in Chemistry, Botany and Zoology.
An important facet of his character, to be seen repeatedly in his medical career, became evident when he took a disconsolate and homesick new boy in the person of Gladstone Fisher under his compassionate wing. Fisher ended up easily the toughest boy in the school in the Munro of 1957.
On leaving Munro “T.I.” worked at the Pathology Lab at U.W.I. under Dr. Bras. He took the opportunity to ask Dr. Bras if he knew where he could get a job in pathology lab on the east coast of the U.S.A. so that he could earn his school fees and come home to Jamaica easily. Dr. Bras did know a pathologist in Niagara Falls New York. That pathologist had no vacancies but directed Trevor to a pathologist at a hospital in Dunkirk, New York and that man hired him. Thus, he was able to earn his BA and his MD at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
The best laid plans of mice and men are inevitably interrupted by strong invasive forces. His passionate interest in Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry directed him to the Biochemistry Lab at the University and there his academic questions were answered by, in his words, “A lovely young lady from Madras (now Chennai) India called Ranga”. Well, plain good old Chemistry trumped organic and bio and they were married in April 1966 in Buffalo. They had two children. Lisa is a professor in Pediatrics and Head of Nephrology at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and Rohan, so named after Rohan Kanhai by his cricket loving father, is a criminal lawyer.
The Heart Legacy
Trevor graduated in 1967. By then Ranga was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Banting and Best Institute of medical research at the University of Toronto. In that same year Trevor started his internship at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto where he developed a keen interest in a non-invasive painless cardiac test called Echocardiography again his compassionate nature is at work. He obtained an Ontario Scholarship and was able to study Cardiac Ultrasonography at the University of Rochester, New York under the tutelage of Dr. Raymond Gramiak a Radiologist and Dr. Pravin Shah, Cardiologist, in 1972 to 1973. This place was in Trevor’s words “one of the hotbeds of Echocardiography” a diagnostic tool which, as well as being painless, yielded a plethora of vital information.
A sampling of his research work shows – 1973 angiomorphic correlation, 1974 pulmonic valve motion assessment, 1977 mitral valve prolapse, 1984 pulmonary and aortic assessment. He installed Dr. Harry Radowsky’s Varian phased Array method using the Doppler Effect at St. Michael’s in 1987. Dr. Trevor Robinson was the founder of the Echocardiography Lab at St. Michael’s Hospital at the University of Toronto. He taught the technique that he himself was ever learning and his students caught the disease of his zeal and evangelized the method.
Heart of Gold
Gold is a very precious metal. It is not however the best element for making hearts. Trevor’s heart of gold has compromised his own health. His reaching out to the tearful unhappy Gladstone Fisher and his gravitation to a painless diagnostic procedure are but tips of the iceberg of his compassion. The reaching out to each other in love across one and a half oceans of cultures has seen Trevor and Ranga through all the vicissitudes and difficulties and indeed joys of their journey and she sees to his best care today. The divine spark of love transcends cultural difference. A profound lesson for us.
The story is told that T.I. discovered at his office late one evening a serious anomaly in a Holter recording report for one of his patients which required that she seek immediate medical attention. He tried to get the patient on the phone. She did not answer. Overly concerned he drove to her house and ensured that she sought and received immediate help by driving her to the hospital himself to have a pacemaker installed.
Dr. Akshay Bagai says he met Trevor when he started Cardiology training in 2006 at St. Michael’s where one of his first rotations was in the Echocardiography Lab and “right from the start you could tell that this gentleman took a lot of interest in residents learning “…
“He stood out above the rest” …. “for every doctor was very busy looking after patients”
And about looking after patients, Dr. Bagai continues, “you could tell by speaking with his patients, how much and in what high regard they held him because he took time for his patients” … “it wasn’t an assembly line for him.”
Roy Grant of Toronto tells of a Guyanese security guard of his, whose mother had a heart condition. She was visiting him in Toronto and had no insurance. Grant directed her to Trevor who treated her for free. Trevor saw that her visa was running out before treatment would be complete and he wrote to the Canadian Immigration and the visa was extended so that treatment could be completed.
Dr. Bibiana Cujcc, President Canadian Society of Echocardiography circularized the members in September 2008 saying “Please come and congratulate the recipient of this year’s achievement award Dr. Trevor Robinson. Dr. Robinson was the founder of the Echocardiography Laboratory at St. Michael’s Hospital and has taught many cardiology residents over the years”.
For these and other reasons Trevor I. Robinson has proudly been inducted into the Munro College Old Boys Association Hall of Fame.