The man behind the woman: Rupert B Turnbull Jr – father of Stomal Therapy

Mrs Naomi  Houston1
1Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, Kingswood, Australia

Formation of an abdominal stoma is a relatively straightforward procedure in contemporary medical practice. Minimal complications result and patients are able to return to a comparatively normal life.  Yesterday was different. Between days of Hippocrates (400 BCE) right up until the middle of the 20th century, intestinal surgery, especially of the small bowel, resulted in poor survival outcomes.

Between 1950 and 1970, key milestones were made surgically and also in the area of stomal therapy. Norma Gill, the lady known as the ‘mother of stomal therapy’ plays a key part and so does her surgeon, Rupert Turnbull Jr. However, little is known about Rupert Turnbull.  Who is this man and why is he so significant? This presentation briefly explores Rupert Turnbull’s life and why he is so significant to the stomal profession.


Naomi Houston is a stomal therapy nurse for Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District and is based at Nepean Hospital.

Before coming to Nepean she worked as a Health and Community Care Instructor at Mission Employment for 10 years training long term unemployed basics in nursing skills. Such a role equipped students to work either as an Assistant in Nursing or pursue further education.

She completed her nursing training at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. She has a post Graduate degree in Family Health and a Masters in Primary Health Care – University of Western Sydney.