Sunday, November 25, 2012

Meet the DOCTOR MOM who brought us wartime penicillin when it could do us some good, not 5 years after the war ended

Her name is Mary Louise (Pelliter Becker) Smith,  but she was much better know as Mrs Mae Smith or Mrs John L Smith.

That was because Mary Louise Smith was what her eldest daughter, born 1918 in New Jersey, was called by all.

Or rather, had been called by all.

Mary Louise junior was at the family summer home in Stonington Connecticut sometime in the 1930s when she contracted spinal meningitis and quickly died in theNew London Connecticut hospital.

There was effective treatments for some of the various forms of meningitis in the 1930s that reduced the death total from 100% down to still very high levels from between 50% to 25% .

Serum worked on two forms of the disease but required repeated highly skilled injections into the spinal cord area - sulfa which came along in the late 1930s, had a similar success rate.

But if the root cause was the pneumonia bacteria, the death rate remained at 100%.

Penicillin reduced that to between 50% to 30% and penicillin had been found to be extremely effective on pneumonia bacteria as far  back as the Fall of 1928, by Alexander Fleming.

But he didn't believe it would work by injection - despite never having tried to see if what he believed was actually factual.

His laziness was needlessly fatal for millions - in particular for his own brother and for Mary Louise Smith.

Dawson's passion got to Doctor Mom

Dr Martin Henry Dawson always was plain spoken - he believed from the start that natural penicillin at the state of development it was in the Fall of 1928 (or the Fall of 1940 or 1943) was more than good enough ready to save lives .

If we only had enough penicillin from the drug companies, he'd say, we could start saving these children dying needlessly of diseases like spinal meningitis and endocarditis.

Now Mary Louise junior's father , John L Smith, was a charitable man but an exceedingly cautious man --- but  he was also senior enough at the 'fine chemicals' firm where he worked, to it do his bidding if he wished.

I firmly believe that once his wife, Mae, picked up the essence of Dawson's sermonette, she never let up on her husband to move forward as fast as morally possible on making lots of penicillin.

'Our daughter is dead but there is no need for us to sit back and watch our frinds' daughters die needlessly'.

Mae was John L's moral compass and she was like a bloodhound on this issue.

Eventually her pleadings and the sight of enough dying baby girls, moved even the cautious John L.

And when he did decide to move, he moved fast and he moved hard.

In five short months his firm was producing almost more natural penicillin than the world knew what to do with it : penicillin and Pfizer never looked back.

All thanks to a tragedy, an impassioned doctor and Doctor Mom.....

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