Monday, October 12, 2015

The Unsavable & the Unspeakable

One can have easily predicted that Dawson's wartime Manhattan Project would (a) seek to help the much neglected chronically ill among the minority poor by (b) using similarly neglected microbes to do so.

For both 'neglected ones' had been his moral and scientific interests throughout his entire medical career.

But he had never ever shown any previous involvement in the disease SBE, subacute bacterial endocarditis.

In addition, selecting SBE to cure would certainly doom his project from showing any success.

For a variety of technical reasons, most doctors and scientists - Dawson among them - considered the invariably fatal SBE to be the permanently unclimbable Mount Everest of fatal infectious diseases.

This is why the medical elite had already written off the SBE patients to an even more certain early death by regarding SBE as a disease unworthy of access to any scarce new war-developed drugs.

Dawson in the Fall of 1940, raged that the Allies, of all people, should never write any humanity off in advance, like their enemies the Axis had done.

Penicillin offered a very slim but new hope for the poor SBEs and he resolved to try this path, regardless of whether or not his reach exceeded his grasp.

Saving the unsavable with the help of the unspeakable

Merely his trying to save the unsavable (SBE patients from the minority class) with help of the unspeakable (slime penicillium) sent, he hoped, a strong enough moral signal that it might move the Allied high command to also to try to reach beyond their grasp, in welcoming all and aiding all inside their emerging Big tent coalition.

It killed him in the process but Dawson lived just long enough to see the very big ocean liner of the Allied war aims turn on a dime, and begin to mass produce natural penicillin to send to all in the world dying for lack of it.

Dawson's reach, his Pax Penicillia, had ironically succeeded far beyond his grasp ....

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