Monday, August 9, 2010

The NEEDLE that wasn't there....

.... changed History.

In the early 1940s ,a parent was bemoaning to a doctor that by the time he got his sick child to the New London hospital from his summer home in Stonington Connecticut a few miles away, the doctors told him it was too late and his sixteen year old daughter Mary Louise was dead from spinal meningitis.

The doctor lectured him, as was his want, that if every GP carried a needle and some penicillin G in their black bag and gave it to every suspected case of meningitis, without waiting to get the patient to hospital to have their spinal fluid tapped and typed, no child ever need die from meningitis.

But unfortunately, the doctor went on to say, drug company executives are still too slow off the mark and GPs have no penicillin to put into their bags, 15 years after its discovery....shooting a meaningful glance at the parent.

The parent went home and thought about it a while  ---- God he hated that guy - always wanting more and always giving you a lecture instead of thanks for whatever you could give him ------- but he did think about it and probably even talked it over with his wife.

Who knows what happened that night. Did he tell his wife," I'd like to help Henry but you know me, I don't like to move quickly."

And perhaps his wife said softly, "I know" and then immediately wished she had never said it.

Perhaps they always agreed to never again talk about that awful night so long ago.

Who knows ?

What we do know, is that something totally unexpected happened, thanks to that parent.

True he was notoriously known as a very frugal and cautious man, but now that he actually decided to ' do something about it'  , he worked like a whirling dervish.

His name was John Lawrence Smith and if you know his name at all, you know him as one of the owners of the famed Brooklyn Dodgers.

During June 1944, the Brooklyn Dodgers had one terrible road trip after another.

But John L's other Brooklyn team scored one knockout after another that June in 1944, in places like Omaha ............ Utah ...... Juno ...... Silver........ and  Gold.

This is the true story of  " How Omaha Got Its 'P' " - and the doctor's advice is still good today - doctors are still advised to carry and use a needleful of Pen G on every suspected case of meningitis, ASAP, if they want to save a life.

If your child's life has been saved by a prompt needleful of Penicillin G, aka benzylpenicillin , offer up thanks to that parent.

(John L Smith ,the head of Pfizer, when it produced most of the penicillin that landed on the D-Day beaches - British and Canadian beaches as well as the American ones.)

And of course to that ever nagging doctor ,Martin Henry Dawson...

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