Wednesday, July 14, 2010

help needed: dragon slayers

Where have you gone, Dr. Jonas Salk
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you 
(Woo, woo, woo)

Some may remember, most cannot even imagine April 12, 1955

“Americans turned on their radios to hear the details (polio vaccine field trials), department stores set up loudspeakers, and judges suspended trials so that everyone in the courtroom could hear. Europeans listened on the Voice of America.”  

The vaccine is "safe, effective and potent."

“ … church bells were ringing across the country, …  parents and teachers were weeping“ "people honked horns, blew factory whistles, fired salutes, … took the rest of the day off, closed their schools or convoked fervid assemblies therein, drank toasts, hugged children, attended church, smiled at strangers, and forgave enemies."

The dragon named polio was slayed. The dragon slayer’s name was Jonas Salk (1914 – 1995).

Why has over half a century of medical science come and gone without another dragon slayer?

Maybe it has more to do with heart than science?

Heart is persevering …
   In those days discrimination from Jewish quotas restricted Salk’s education and employment opportunities.

Heart is courageous …
   When confronted with who would take the risk of human testing after his successful tests on laboratory animals, Salk his wife and children allowed themselves to be human guinea pigs. “I will be personally responsible for the vaccine."

Heart is altruistic …
  Edward Murrow: “Who owns this patent?”
  Jonas Salk: "No one. Could you patent the sun?”

Half a century later man has walked on the Moon, machines have rolled around Mars, yet why have we not cheered the defeat of another disease? Are Prozac and Viagra to be legacies of our times? ... We need less focus on patents and more heart and passion in medical science. We need dragon slayers.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer 
web site: 
musings: patrick ponders 


  1. totally agree Patrick. he did it for the good of man rather than the good of himself or his pocketbook. once we eliminate greed from the equation and making the almighty dollar, perhaps the dragon slayers will come out again


  2. Betty, greed may be as much a dragon as disease. In 1955 the annual health care expenditure in the United States was $12 billion. Last year it was $2.5 trillion. Sure to be fair we should consider inflation and other economic voodoo but greed cannot be ignored.

  3. Patrick, I stumbled across this post while putting together a list of caregiver blogs. Thanks for writing this, I had never even heard of Dr. Salk. I'm glad for what I've learned here today. Your call for "dragon slayers" is both inspiring and humbling.


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