Monday, October 18, 2010

*In ferrum pro libertate rueban

It is thin comfort when you lose your dad or husband at an young age to note that his death had its poetic dimensions to it.

But just as Dr Martin Henry Dawson began his independent career with his work on the dagger shaped S pneumococcus, so those bacteria also brought his career to an end.

 These sword-shaped bacteria - 'the old man's friend' - hastened his end when a final Myasthenia Gravis Crisis, two and a half years after his initial diagnosis, led to aspiration pneumonia which developed into full blown bacterial pneumonia.

This was the usual time period - and manner - in which people with severe MG died , before changes in emergency crisis treatment in the late 1950s greatly reduced fatal outcomes from 80% to 5%  (and that 5% usually from the severely ill elderly with MG.)

A further poetic dimension to Dawson's life and death is that the man spent his whole scientific career focused on mucus -  strep bacterial mucus to be exact.

(From the lifetime he spent plowing this narrow, boring-seeming furrow, Dawson nevertheless spun off HGT and Recombinant DNA, Q-sensing, Molecular Mimicry induced Autoimmune disease, and Biofilm colonies destroyed by Systemic Natural penicillin - basically the entire field of  current bio medicine.)

Not bad !

But in the end, it was his own thickened mucus that his MG crisis produced but that his weak gag reflex could not expectorate that led to the aspiration pneumonia that resulted in his death.

Dawson lived for his (bacterial) mucus and he died by his (own) mucus...

* "For Freedom, They Rushed the Sword" : Virgil's AENEID

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