Fullerton, Andrew (1868–1934), surgeon, was born 20 March 1868 in Wesley Street, Cavan, the third son of the seven children of Rev. Alexander Fullerton, a methodist clergyman, and his wife Mary Jane (née Moffitt), a close relative of General Gordon of Khartoum. His paternal grandfather, James Fullerton, was from Castlebar, Co. Mayo. Educated at Lurgan College, in 1885 Andrew entered QCB, where he was a scholar and prizeman, and graduated MB, B.Ch. (1890), with first-class honours and a gold medal from the RUI. He proceeded MD in 1893, also with first-class honours, and later obtained an M.Ch. (1913) from QUB.
After graduation, Fullerton was house surgeon at the Miller Hospital, Greenwich, and the West Kent General Hospital, Maidstone (1890–94). When he returned to Belfast there were no openings for surgeons and he worked for a while as a general practitioner and honorary demonstrator in anatomy in QCB. From 1898 to 1933 he was a member of the surgical staff of the Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, and in 1900 he was appointed surgical registrar at the Royal Victoria Hospital. He remained associated with the Royal Victoria until his retirement in 1933 and was, successively, assistant surgeon (1902–11), surgeon in charge of out-patients (1911–18), and surgeon (1918–33).
At the outbreak of the First World War Fullerton enlisted and served as a colonel in the RAMC, stationed at Boulogne, France, and was called to the forward area to operate in genito-urinary cases. There he developed an expertise in treating gunshot wounds to the kidney, ureter and bladder and, together with an Oxford surgeon, Henry Cuthbert Bazett (1885–1950), introduced a method for blood transfusion directly from a donor's artery to a recipient's vein, known as the Bazett–Fullerton method. Facilities were good at the hospital complex and he met many elite surgeons from France, Canada, and the United States. After the war he valued and maintained his overseas contacts, encouraging many world-class surgeons to visit Belfast. He hosted the Mayo brothers at QUB while he was professor there, and after a visit to their clinic in Rochester, New York, he introduced the use of white trousers and shirts in the operating theatre in the Royal Victoria Hospital. He was appointed CMG (1916) and CB (1919) for his work during the war and was mentioned in dispatches three times.
In 1923 Fullerton was appointed professor of surgery at QUB, where he also remained until 1933. During his term he maintained his interest in surgical developments, tirelessly trying new methods and instrumentation, not always with success. Concerned that patients died if left under anaesthetic too long, he worked quickly during operations. Sir Ian Fraser (qv), his assistant, once recorded that it took him only 57 seconds to perform a prostatectomy. He was an early pioneer of the electric cytoscope, taking it seriously when others did not, and practising at home on a child's football until he was proficient in its use. Honoured by his profession several times, in 1922 he received an honorary fellowship of the American College of Surgeons and in 1931 was elected president of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland when he hosted a successful meeting of the association in Belfast. He joined the British Medical Association (1893) and was a member of its representative body (1906–9), serving as secretary (1909), and later vice-president (1914) of the section on diseases of children, as well as vice-president of the section of surgery.
Though a competent general surgeon with much experience of paediatrics, Fullerton increasingly specialised as a urologist, purchasing specialist equipment himself when the hospital did not provide it. His international reputation was established through his many important and original observations: he was the first to recognise the significance of unilateral diuresis and to use retroperotoneal exposure of ureters in early diagnosis of renal tuberculosis. In his early days he developed a new splint for wrist fractures, publishing the book Colles's fracture and other fractures and disjunctions at the lower end of the radius and ulna (1905). He took home bound volumes of his meticulous hospital notes, which he later left to the library of QUB, and wrote more than seventy surgical papers, including some on gunshot wounds of internal organs.
Fullerton received recognition for his achievements when he was elected to the presidency of several professional associations, including the Ulster Medical Society (1919) and the Ulster branch of the British Medical Association. Particularly interested in the affairs of the RCSI, he was elected FRCSI (1901) and later joined the council of the college (1921). He was the first Belfast surgeon ever to serve as president of the college (1926–8) and the first provincial surgeon to be elected in eighty years. In 1929–30, when his successor, T. E. Gordon, died suddenly in office, he was unanimously chosen for the position a second time. He cherished this appointment, and his interest in southern Ireland inspired some of his students, most notably Sir Ian Fraser, to follow in his footsteps. In a tribute to him, Fraser reported that his involvement in the RCSI might have cost Fullerton a knighthood when he was incorrectly reported in some Belfast papers as saying that there ‘should be no border . . .’, when he had actually said that ‘in the field of surgery there should be no border . . .’. When he died he was emeritus professor of surgery at QUB.
As a teacher, Fullerton was stimulating, and his infectious enthusiasm made him popular with junior doctors and students alike. Upon his retirement as professor of surgery his students presented him with a silver salver in appreciation of his devotion and energy. He was deeply moved by their gift. Largely owing to an abrasive manner, his private practice never became very large, though his skill and thoroughness as a surgeon was widely recognised by his peers. He had many close friends who saw past the driven perfectionist and appreciated his humanity and warmth. He loved social occasions, was a generous host, and enjoyed bridge and golf, playing every Saturday morning after his rounds at the Royal Victoria. Delighted to be elected captain of the Royal County Down Golf Club (1922–3), he partnered the prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) during his visit to Ireland when he played at the club. In later life he became a member of the Church of Ireland and was a prominent freemason, being master of the Queen's University masonic lodge and a prince mason.
Fullerton was married twice, first to Caroline Bulloch, daughter of Thornton Bulloch of Aylsham, Norfolk, with whom he had two sons (Cecil and Eric) and one daughter (Irene). Caroline died in 1926, and her death affected him deeply. He later married Norah Digby (1928), the widow of Randal Counihan, MD, who nursed him for the year before his death when his health was failing. He died 22 May 1934, a few hours after an operation to relieve him from prostate cancer. His portrait, by William Conor (qv), is held by the Royal Victoria Hospital.