Peggy Whalley, M.D., is a 1956 graduate of Southwestern Medical College. She completed her internship (1956-1957) in Internal Medicine under Donald Seldin, M.D., and her residency in obstetrics and gynecology (1957-1960) under Jack Pritchard, M.D. She was the first female resident in obstetrics and gynecology at Parkland Memorial Hospital and the first to serve as Chief Resident her senior year. She completed a fellowship in medicine (1960-1961) under the direction of Dr. Seldin and joined the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology as an assistant professor in 1961.
Inspired by her mentor Dr. Jack Pritchard, Dr. Whalley became interested in the hematologic changes occurring during pregnancy. She studied sickle cell disease, the impact of folic acid and iron deficiencies on the fetus, and the management of pregnancies complicated by diseases like diabetes, hypertension, renal and urinary tract infections, and hyperparathyroidism.
Early in her career, Dr. Whalley observed that asymptomatic pregnant women with bacteria in their urine (bacteriuria) often had inflammation of the kidney and pelvic linings (pyelonephritis). Acute pyelonephritis is a serious infection that poses hazards to both mother and fetus, including an increased risk of preterm birth. She was the first to determine the true risk to mother and fetus of asymptomatic bacteriuria in pregnancy; the first to point out the mechanism of tetracycline toxicity in pyelonephritis of pregnancy; the first to determine the association between the development of pyelonephritis and the coexistence of S-A hemoglobin (a variant of normal adult hemoglobin) in obstetric patients; and the first to determine the relationship between folate deficiency in pregnant women and the effects of that deficiency on fetal and maternal well-being.
Believing that confinement would improve the outcome for women suffering from complications of pregnancy, in 1971 Dr. Whalley established one of the first high-risk antenatal units in the world at the old Woodlawn Hospital. Later the facility was expanded from 5 beds to a full ward of 28 beds and moved to Parkland Memorial Hospital. By 1974, the perinatal mortality of women cared for in this unit had gone from 180 to 19 babies per 1,000 deliveries. Recognizing the impact of this unit on mortality, in 1976 Dr. Whalley received the Laurel Award for her community service from the Dallas Branch of the American Association of University Women. Dubbed Peggy’s Palace by Dr. Norman Gant -- the facility was officially dedicated in 1988. By then, it had cared for more than 8,000 pregnant women suffering from problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, or premature ruptured membranes.
Recognizing her dedication to teaching, research, and patient care, in 1975 Dr. Whalley was named the first Jack A. Pritchard Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology. A year later, she became the first director of the new Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship at UT Southwestern -- a position she held from 1976-1986.
Dr. Whalley retired as a full-time faculty member in 1986 but continued to work part time covering the high-risk unit. Upon her full retirement in 1992, she became the second faculty member, and the first woman, to be named Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynecology.