Saturday, September 29, 2012

Aside from VEGEMITE, what did Aussies Gray & Duhig have that Alexander Fleming totally lacked ? (Moral Fervour)

6 million might have lived
In the Fall of 1943, fifteen years after Nobel Prize winner Alexander Fleming proved that penicillin - at least his method of making penicillin - could NOT save lives, two intrepid Aussies using his very same penicillin strain and his very same methods (right down to the use of Seitz asbestos filter pads) plucked a half dozen patients from the jaws of certain death.
  Aussie "Men at Work" , under tough wartime conditions

"They came from a land down under" - working in fact in then remote Brisbane Australia , under severe wartime shortage of staff and materials, their methods displayed NO technical improvements over what Fleming and his two young assistants had managed 15 years earlier.

Unfortunately, Altruism was never Alexander Fleming's long suit...

The key difference was that they had the moral fervour ( that Fleming totally lacked) to try almost anything to save people who were certain to die in days if not hours , by pumping extraordinary amounts of impure ("crude") penicillin water into their bodies.

Even at that late stage in penicillin's development, when the whole middle class world was talking up the miracle of penicillin, most doctors would rather see a patient die, than publicly admit that they injected an impure natural substance into a human being's bloodstream.

(It, after all, was an age of eugenics, and pure breeds, families of good blood and evil half bloods , pure-blooded Indians, when 1/32 or even one drop of black blood made you legally black and when the American Red Cross would not allow the mixing of black and white blood in transfusions : pureness and blood had a quasi-scientific, almost mystical , quality in those years .)

 Nothing impure went into such a symbol of purity as human blood.

So even in late 1943, only a few doctors let the two pioneers, Duhig and Gray, inject raw penicillin juice into their patients - and even they, only when their patient seemed at death's door.

So these were not average very sick patients - they were gravely weakened patients given up for dead - so their recovery was all the more remarkable.

Penicillin's Holocaust

If Fleming had displayed any of their moral fervour in the 12 peacetime years when he had penicillin virtually to himself, an estimated six millions lives might have been saved.

Including - tragically - his own favourite brother  John in 1937 - whose pneumonia case was easily curable by even modest amounts of crude penicillin water - if only Alexander Fleming  had tried.

Instead it was left to the moral fervour of another Scot, Nova Scotian born  Martin Henry Dawson, to first put impure penicillin into a patient's bloodstream, in 1940.

Fewer doctors than you can count on your hands followed Dawson's moral fervour when it came to fighting for the right of impure - natural - penicillin's  to save lives,  in those all important  years between October 1940 and May 1944....

* They used Vegemite in the making of their penicillin juice , as a growth stimulant

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