Saturday, September 6, 2014


Their leader, Dr Henry Dawson, dying of Myasthenia Gravis (MG) with deadly bulbar nerve involvement.

By the end , his MG crisis were ever more frequent and he was reduced to working out of a wheelchair, with oxygen assist.

WWI poison gas and too much time in damp trenches hadn't helped his lungs now threatened by bulbar nerve failings.

His foot and shoulder had also been severely wounded in the war, resulting in months spent in hospitals recovering.

His wife and helpmate, Marjorie Granger Dawson, had been born with congenital hip problems and no amount of operations had helped - she walked , but with a cane.

His clinical assistant , Thomas H Hunter. Polio had left him with two legs paralyzed so he got about with two crutches.

Former Dawson patient (and Dawson's great behind-the-scenes influence within the powerful WPB ) , financier Floyd Odlum.

The Warren Buffett of his age, he was crippled by rheumatoid arthritis while stressing about American unpreparedness for total war.

He was wracked with pain for the rest of his life and only really comfortable submersed in a warm water swimming pool.

Another former Dawson patient, Dr Dante Colitti

Years spent in hospital while doctors struggled to save his life from TB of the spine left him determined to become a surgeon despite his arthritis of the spine.

A condition which left him a hunchback and required him to use crutches.

The medical establishment rejected his services - partly because he was also catholic and Italian-American.

When he saw his chance he delighted in emulating Dawson , by tweaking the noses of the medically powerfuls by getting scarce penicillin for a dying baby via an appeal to the Hearst newspaper empire.

Miss H : Dawson's first SBE patient in which is can be said for sure that his penicillin alone saved her life.

But SBE casts its net wide and with her , it also damaged her uterus so badly she couldn't have children and left her blind in one eye. But she hung on, despite all the new operations and hospital stays, and thrived.

Her continued survival was crucial to answering the many doubters of Dawson's use of precious penicillin on the useless SBE patients, in the critical period between the Fall of 1942 and the Fall of 1945.

Charlie Aronson, along with Aaron Alston, was the first person to ever get a penicillin shot. Dawson's historical injections couldn't have hurt, because Charlie amazingly survived the then almost invariably fatal SBE.

He got a second bout of SBE and more Dawson penicillin again saved his life - but SBE also gave him a life threatening major stroke that left him permanently paralyzed in speech and body and in a wheelchair.

He survived and thrived - it was but the latest in a life long battle with a half dozen diseases that should have killed him.

As far as we know , he survived SBE - thanks in part to his historic first ever penicillin injection - from October 1940 till at least the end of December 1948.

(My current best guess is that he lived at least until 1955.)

His continued survival again stifled the many doubters to Dawson's SBE efforts.

In the parlance of the day, all seven were 4F --- in fact, the 4F of the 4F , useless, unfit, useless mouths.

But these seven , the Gotham Seven, were the ones who fought off their own Allied government and their own physical weaknesses to rescue natural lifesaving penicillin and set it free for all.

Honour their names : un-super heroes indeed....

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