The Taiwanese 台灣人 Tâi-Oân Lâng

Welcome to the Taiwanese Site! This is a collection of the stories of the past Taiwanese who had contributed to Taiwan in various aspects. We encourage readers' comments. Contact point, email contact at or ** Last Update April 26, 2012 **

Friday, May 12, 2006

Dr. David Landsborough III 蘭大衛 醫師

Dr. and Mrs. David Landsborough III

President Lee Teng-hui and Dr. Landsborough IV - 1996

Skin Graft with Love
Some 250 years ago, the name was McClamroch. Then it was changed to McLandsborough; and then to Landsborough. If the reason was to make the name shorter, then Taiwan was the right place to be. Both Dr. Landsborough III and IV were simply called Dr. Lan (Lân I-Seng; 蘭醫生.) The Landsborough III was Dr. Lan, and Landsborough IV was young Dr. Lan.

The Christian faith must have run deep through their blood. Both Landsborough I and II were ordained ministers and natural scientists (what a combination!) They were well respected in Scotland. A church has been named after Landsborough, and a street was called Landsborough Drive. Nevertheless, they had no idea that, thousands miles away, hundred years later, Landsborough - Dr. Lan - would become a household name in Taiwan. Between Landsborough III and IV, a family tradition of medical missionary, their loving and touching stories, their service to Taiwan for 68 years were beyond imagination. They became the foundation of Changhua Christian Hospital (彰化基督教醫院.) Their skin graft with love (切膚之愛) and the spirit of feet-washing (洗腳精神) became the lasting model of the medical ethics in Taiwan.

Chronological Events Digested
Like all great notions in history, there was no such thing as one-man army. Prior to the arrival of Dr. Landsborough, there was Mr. W. A. Pickering (必麒鏻) in 1870 at Toa-Sia (大社) near Changhua (彰化) to assist the local patients in order to receive medical treatments from Dr. James Maxwell in Tainan. The following year there was Mr. B Lee (李豹傳道師,) sent by Dr. Maxwell to help establish a local church in Changhua area which became the base of the ministry in central Taiwan. Also in 1871, missionary Rev. William Campbell (甘為霖牧師) arrived in Taiwan to take charge of the missionary work in Changhua area. And then in 1888 came another British missionary Dr. Gavin Ruessell (盧嘉敏醫師.) In 1895 Taiwan was ceded to Japan. There was no ruinning water in a mostly hot and humid climate. There were, however, malaria, plague, typhoid, dysentery, and plenty of mosquitoes all year round.
Welcome aboard, Dr. David Landsborough!
Just months after Japan took control of Taiwan, accompanied by Rev. Campbell N. Moody (梅監霧牧師) and Rev. A. B. Nielson (廉德烈牧師) Dr. Landsborough arrived in Taiwan. They spent the first few months in Tainan learning Taiwanese from Lim Ian-Sin (林燕臣.) In 1896, the year-long joint effort of three missionaries, namely Duncan Ferguson (宋忠堅,) Campbell Moody (梅監霧) and David Landsborough (蘭大衛) had thus made possible the birth of both a church and a hospital in Changhua.

With the bamboo-made beds as platform, Landsborough, who had a MD degree with very little clinical experience when he started, performed operations while medical students looked on. It was probably the earliest form of [teaching hospital] in Taiwan. These early medical students all turned out to be outstanding physicians. There were Yen, Kao, Y Wu, H Wu, and Liu (顏振聲﹑高再得﹑吳臥龍﹑吳希揚﹑劉振昌.)
From the beginning, they never had enough beds for the patients. All doctors and nurses worked long hours, and many became sick due to the environments and constant physical contacts with the patients. But none gave up the hope of helping patients. With the offerings among missionaries and the approval from the Mission Board in Tainan, the original hospital was built to tend 75 patients while the actual in-patients were easily over 130. As the years went by, the improvements were visible. There were more medical staff, the housing for the missionaries (1910,) the running water system within the hospital (1911) and the wonderful marriage (many expected David to stay single since he was already 40 then) of David Landsborough and a fellow missionary Marjorie Learner (1912.) In 1914 David Landsborough IV was born. The arrival of the young Landsborough was perceived by the locals as if he were one of their own. (And he was indeed one of them as we would see later.) People were running around on the streets telling everybody about the good news.

During the WWI (1916-19,) Changhua hospital was forced to close, and the Landsboroughs went back to England while Dr. Lan served at the Navy hospital as a surgeon.

Landsborough came back to Changhua hospital after the war. The new equipments were introduced, and more local professionals were involved with the expansion of the hospital. In the midst of years of struggles, frustrations and sweats and blood, Changhua hospital was there to grow. Today, 2006, the Changhua Christian Hospital has more than 1500 beds, and stands as one of the best teaching hospitals in Taiwan.
The Love that Hurts and Heals
In 1928 came that country boy named Chiu Kim-Iau (周金耀.) Chiu had a severe affection around his right knee. Doctors were frustrated because they seemed to be running out of the options to save him. Mrs. Landsborough learned about Chiu, and came up a brave idea: transplant her skins to save Chiu. It was believed that Dr. Landsborough used up four pieces of his wife’s skin from her leg, with the hope to save Chiu’s foot and more so his life. The transplant was later proved to be rejected clinically. However, after almost a year of on-off operations and constant care, the boy’s life was saved. Chiu grew up to be an ordained minister. He was a long time pastor of Iam-Tia Presbyterian Church (鹽埕教會) in the city of Kauhsiung, and was once elected as the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. All his life, Rev. Chiu walked with minor difficulties, yet he walked with pride and gratefulness. He said, “The operation failed on my knee, but it has been a success in my heart.” This story has inspired so many people, Taiwanese and foreigners, Christians and non-Christians. Dr. Chong-Ming Du (杜聰明博士
) had asked an artist S C Lee (李石樵) to paint the story in order to set the highest medical professional model for Kaohsiung Medical College students.

In June of 1935, Dr. Landsborough was awarded a precious vessel by the Japanese government for his 40th anniversary of service in Taiwan. The church and hospital held their own celebration on December in Changhua church.

On March 1st 1936, retired Dr. and Mrs. Landsborough boarded a train for the port of Keelung, to catch their ship home. As the church choir sang the hymns "God be with you till we meet again," and "The Lord bless thee and keep thee," to them, they waved farewell to their friends and to their beloved town of Changhua.

The Love that Endures
In 1957, at the age of 87, Dr. Landsborough (1870-1957) passed away in England. The news came to Changhua and saddened many. At that time, his Changhua-born son David (蘭大弼) and wife Jean (高仁愛,) both physicians, had been back to Changhua hospital from Choan-Chiu (福建泉州) for five years already. They were to spend a total of 28 years in Changhua, furthering old Dr. Landsborough's good work at the hospital he had created.

The senior Dr. and Mrs. Landsborough spent their final years in a home named Formosa near London. Mrs. Lan continued to write books of the Formosan memories well into her 90's. On her 100th birthday she was honored with a telegraph of congratulations from Queen Elizabeth II. Marjorie Landsborough passed away gracefully at the age of 101 (1884-1985.)

In 1991, David Landsborough IV was honored by the Taiwanese American Foundation with the Social Service Award. At the presentation ceremony in California he introduced himself in Taiwanese, saying: "I am a Taiwanese from Britain, who grew up in Changhua." At that moment, the eyes of many in the audience were moist with tears.

In 1996, at the age of 83, David Landsborough IV traveled back to Taiwan to receive the Order of the Brilliant Star with Violet Grand Cordon, presented to him by President Lee Teng-hui. As he said at the time: "Everyone has their roots, the place where they are born and raised. I have roots in Taiwan. People here remember my family well, and many still recall my parents." Again in February 1999 Dr. Landsborough IV delivered an excellent speech about medical ethics "How to be a Good Doctor" at the Medica School of the National Cheng-Kung University in Tainan. And again he used Taiwanese language to emphasize that he, too, was a native Taiwanese, "I am a child of Changhua (Goa si Chiong-Hoa gin-na.)"

It is more than just a loving memory. It has been close to worshipping. The people in Changhua remembered Dr. Lan with a saying, "Matsu Temple at the South Gate, Dr. Lan's Clinic at the West Gate." (南門媽祖宮,西門蘭醫生 -- in Taiwanese: Lâm-mng Má-Cho· keng, Sai-mng Lân I-seng.) In people's mind, between the south gate Matsu and west gate Dr. Lan, everyone is covered. Dr. Lan was also called the "living Buddha of Changhua" (彰化活佛.)

The people in Taiwan will always remember Dr. Lan, both the old and the young, and Mrs. Lan, both the old and the young. Through them, many lives were saved, transformed, inspired, and touched. Through their stories, many more lives will be saved, transformed, inspired and touched.
Acknowledgement: A big part of information is taken from these two web sites -
New Found Site:
Dr. Lan IV 1999 speech: