Doctors Who Changed Modern Medical History
Cover of Enrich Magazine, where my article was publicshed
Modern doctor pioneers in medicine
Modern medical doctor pioneers should be celebrated. It is well known that most medical advances were made after World War I and II. Less well known is that the pioneering spirit for life and health continues. Five modern medical heroes are:
Date of Issue
Stephen Grupp, MD, PhD. : Discovering New Treatment For Leukemia
Symptoms of Leukemia easily, among others. Leukemia, or cancer of the blood, is a killer. However, in the last 25 years great strides have been made.
Dr. Grupp continues to pursue the war againnt Leukemia. Recently, he successfully performed an experimental procedure on a five year old girl named Emily Whitehead, according to WebMd. Emily was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is 85% curable. Unfortunately, she fell within the 15% incurable group. After chemotherapy Emily relapsed twice. By 2012 she was expected to contract kidney failure within days.
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Altering Cells to Respond to Treatment
Dr. Grupp, Director of Translational Research at the Center for Childhood Cancer Research in the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, made a daring suggestion -- make genetic changes to Emily’s T-cells to strengthen them in combating the cancer cells. The risk was that only three adults had undergone the treatment, making Emily the first child to have the procedure done.
When he apprised the Whiteheads of the treatment and its risks, they decided to go for it. During the therapy regimen, Emily fell into a coma and had a 1/1000 ratio of possibility for survival. However, a drug was found that reversed her condition. Emily awoke from her coma, cancer free. Today she is eight years old. Dr. Grupp has administered the same treatment to 17 other children with 80% of them in remission.
Targeted Cancer Therapy with T-Cells | Memorial Sloan Kettering
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First page of article
Page 2 of my Enrich article
Dr. Ray L. Catague: So Much Accomplished With So Little Money
While the Philippines is reputable for its culture of corruption, Dr. Ray L. Catague proved that so much can be accomplished with so little money, especially in the Southern Philippine provinces of Cotabato, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao and Sulu (all primarily Muslim majority regions), according to RAFI Triennial Awards.
Catague was initially the Public Health Officer of Mlang, Cotabato. He took note of the health problems in the area – teen pregnancies, violence, HIV-Aids, poor sanitation, malnutrition, and a below minimum government budget.
Catague, a doctor and health officer, used his skills in organizing people to get things done. First, he began an adolescent reproductive health program by acquiring the help of youth volunteers to spread an information campaign about HIV-Aids. He believed that idealistic young people are the best role models for other youth. He also established teen centers for activities and counseling.
Social Issues, Nutrition and Sanitation
His Anti-HIV program was also expanded to include males and prostitutes. With the help of Local Government Units, barrio organizations and non-governmental organizations, an information and education program was launched, and monitored for progress.
Catague also introduced a nutrition program, Purok Modeling program. He got the funding by convincing the Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Council) to use the budget allotted for a sports fest for a nutrition program instead. This program taught the community how to cook inexpensive yet nutritious meals daily.
Catague started the Nutri-Pack Calamay Hati, a complete nutritional food that was less expensive and more delicious than lugaw (soup with rice and egg), which is usually served to those who are undernourished or ill. For this, he won a USAID award in 1999.
A sanitation program was implemented by distributing toilet bowls to barangays upon their request. Materials came from the Local Government Units (one sack of cement could make up to seven toilets). The community provided the labor (housing for the toilet) and Catague provided his technical know-how and the mold.
Catague’s success in Cotabato led to his working with the UN Fund for Population Activities. He established and implemented a reproductive health program in Cotabato, Tawi – Tawi, Sulu, Lanao, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat.
Catague was given the Jose Rizal Award by the Philippine Medical Association – the highest medical award in the Philippines.
Joseph JY Sung: Remember SARS
Eleven years ago, SARS (Severe acute Respiratory Syndrome), a mysterious killer disease, suddenly emanated from Guangdong province, China. The year was 2003 and in haste SARS spread throughout China and caused 299 deaths in Hong Kong. Many of those who died were hospital workers who were treating patients afflicted with the illness.
Eventually, SARS spread worldwide, causing 775 deaths. This was an unknown illness for which no laboratory tests existed, and of which very little was known regarding its derivation and its qualities. For this reason, Time Magazine named Dr. Sung from Hong Kong among the Asian Heroes of 2003.
Professor Joseph JY Sung, at that time headed the Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine at the Prince of Wales Hospital, aka the Chinese University of Hong Kong teaching hospital.
Sung says what helped greatly was media reports about SARS that managed to slip through a controlled media that did not permit reporting of disease outbreaks. After SARS, the government realized that accurate reportage of new illnesses were essential in understanding a disease and finding a cure.
Sung recalls how in the initial days of treating SARS, the hospital staff seemingly was working completely in the dark. “There were so many unfavorable factors,” Sung told Want China Times. But the healthcare workers stood together, a solid team, and they beat SARS. In fact, the last SARS outbreak reported by the World Health Organization was in 2004.
Have you or anyone you known, had an illness that seemed impossible to heal?
Prof. Joseph JY Sung: Heroic Health Workers Died From Mystery Disease While Treating Others
The story of SARS
More than a mystery disease, SARS is a story of brave doctors and hospital workers who tackled an enemy they knew nothing about. They were the first in line, and it was every inch a battle as going to war, and some died in the effort to overcome this mystery disease. Please consider reading this book, Rogue, so that we can see that doctors not only deal with predictable illnesses, but are at the forefront of diseases of which very little to nothing is known about.
Anwar Fazal: Sustainable Human Development
Anwar Fazal, Regional Coordinator of the Urban Management Program for Asia and the Pacific (UMPAP), is concurrently affiliated with the UNDP where his work involves sustainable human development projects for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
Fazal once said, "Babies cry the same the world over, our blood is red in color. There is so much that makes us the same. It is important that we do not forget that human beings throughout the world have this linkage," according to the UNDP.
He considers the entire world in his vision for health and development, but he is proudly Malaysian. This multi-awarded man has accomplished so much because of one vision. He told UNDP News, "If our cities are to be our homes, they have to be developed in ways that are socially just, ecologically sustainable, politically participatory, economically productive and culturally vibrant."
Anwar Faizal: Sustainable Human Development
Fazal’s work is plentiful, and his awards, equally so. The awards alone would fill enough pages for another article. The work he has achieved include establishing the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), and World Breastfeeding Week, which over 100 countries celebrate every year.
He also founded Pesticides Action Network (PAN), and Health Action International (HAI). UNDP New York freely admits that Fazal made the phrase, “Sustainable human development” his life motto long before the United Nations made it a catch phrase. Fazal has focused his life work on women’s and children’s issues, consumer rights, the environment, and people empowerment.
The world is fortunate that Fazal used his brilliance, creativity and work ethic in these areas. A colleague described his brain as “more like a computer chip” especially because of his extraordinary memory.
TEDxBratislava - Andrey IVANOV -- Is the economic growth the same as development
To list down all of Fazal’s awards would require a second article. Instead, we will mention the more recent ones, such as the 1995 International Health Award (given by the La Leche League International) for trailblazing work in advocating women and children’s welfare globally.
Fazal also won The Right Livelihood Award (an "Alternative" Nobel Prize) in 1982 for his unrelenting endeavors towards protecting public interests. He is in the Environmental Hall of Fame (Mother Earth News) and won the Global 500 Award by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 1988.
Dr. William Tan: An Inspiration to the Disabled
William Tan was born with everything going against him. He was the son of a sidewalk vendor, and at the age of two, he contracted polio which paralyzed him from the waist downwards. But he told Singapore Heroes, “I don't have the use of my legs but I shall make the best of my brain and my arms that are not paralyzed.”
From the start he was a fighter. He was kicked out of kindergarten because other children bullied him. In response, he would grab their arms and bite their hands. He then went to Selegie Primary and was a top student. He won a scholarship to Raffles Institution, and there he dreamed of becoming a scientist and a doctor. In pursuit of his dream, he won scholarships to study at Harvard and Oxford.
Doctor, Neuroscientist and Wheelchair Athlete for Charity
Aside from his work as a doctor and neuroscientist, Dr. Tan is an accomplished wheelchair athlete. He embarked on the sport at the age of 15 and represented his country, Singapore, at the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul, a fundraising activity. In fact, he has joined up to 60 ultra marathons globally and raised some $16 million for local and international charities.
Dr. Tan was also the first man on a wheelchair to finish the North Pole marathon, which was a global challenge that covered 17 marathons in seven continents. He still has goals. His newest dream is to raise S$2 million for “Global Flying Hospitals”, which are aircraft that turn into surgery rooms and fly to developing countries to offer free medical service.
Afflicted with Cancer
Note: The year following this interview, Dr. Tan was afflicted with cancer. However, he continues to raise funds for worthy projects, this time for cancer patients who are in need of funds for their treatment.