Even a decade ago, creating a vaccine in less than a year and deploying it was unheard of worldwide. However, the covid pandemic stands testimony to the enormous advances that medical science has made since the beginning. So, this National Doctor’s Day, let’s take the opportunity to find out more about the doctors who changed the world.
Without these pioneers, today, we would not have such long healthy lives, and the world would be a different place.
1. The Discovery of Vaccinations by Edward Jenner
Dr. Jenner pioneered the smallpox vaccine that earned him the title of the “Father of Immunology.” Today, if we have eradicated deadly diseases like smallpox and poliomyelitis, it is because of his early contributions.
When Jenner started with immunization, he was criticized as people did not feel the disease needed a vaccine, but today the World Health Organization announced the global eradication of smallpox. It is the only human disease to be eradicated worldwide.
2. Dr. Daniel Hale Williams – the first surgeon to successfully conduct open-heart surgery
Born as the eldest son in a family of eight, Dr. Daniel Williams lost his father to tuberculosis at 10. He started as a shoemaker and managed to continue his secondary education to become the apprentice of a renowned surgeon, Dr. Henry Palmer.
Dr. Williams was one of the first African American doctors and one of the first contributors to the Equal Rights Movement and had even started the country’s first interracial hospital and nursing school. It was by chance, when a stab wound, victim was brought to his hospital, that Dr. Williams performed an open-heart surgery for the first time in the world and his patient went on to live a normal life. This was a modern medical science landmark, making Dr. Williams one of the doctors who changed the world.
3. The Accidental Discovery of Penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming
Scottish scientist Sir Alexander Fleming was one of the pioneers of medicine. He saved millions of lives with his discovery of penicillin and was even awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine. Fleming was a Captain in the Army Medical Corps during his early years in the First World War. He witnessed many of his troops succumb to infections that festered in wounds and became motivated to find a cure.
It was accidently that Fleming discovered a mould on one of the culture plates that had bactericidal properties. This later led him to finally discover penicillin, the first antibiotic to treat various diseases. To date, penicillin is the most widely used antibiotic in the world.
4. Charles Richard Drew, MD: Father of the blood bank
If you’ve ever donated or received blood, then you have Dr. Charles Richard Drew to thank for enhanced storage methods and higher quality transfusions. Dr. Drew’s work on separating plasma from blood made it possible to store blood for a week — before this, blood could only be stored for a few days. He also discovered that transfusions could be performed with plasma alone, broadening the scope and reach of who could be treated. His work was extremely critical during the World War II when hundreds of British soldiers needed transfusions, it saved many lives.
These are just a few of the many pioneers who have made sure that we remain healthy and constantly challenge the boundaries of average life expectancy.
Even today, our fraternity of doctors and scientists in India and around the world are making numerous sacrifices to safeguard us from the pandemic. It’s only a miracle that we have a vaccine in such a small period to protect us from the deadly virus. This could not have been achieved without their dedication towards humanity.
Let us come together and express our gratitude to every doctor we know in any way possible!