There have been many eminent personalities who have made great contributions to the field of medicine. We don’t get to hear about most of them. Here we take a look at five such contemporary doctors who have pushed the envelope in their own fields.
1. Dr Denton Cooley: Performed the first implantation of an artificial heart
Texas Heart Institute’s Facebook page
This pioneering American cardiologist was born in 1920. Since his youth, Dr Cooley was fascinated with the human heart. He went on to pursue medical studies at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, where Dr Alfred Blalock became his mentor. In 1962, Dr Cooley founded the Texas Heart Institute, a non-profit cardiology centre, in Houston. In 1969, when transplant techniques were still being developed, Dr Cooley performed the first ever transplant of a total artificial heart into a patient named Haskell Karp. This heart kept the patient alive for 65 hours.
2. Dr R. D. Laing: Exceptional psychiatrist
Image Credits: Robert E. Haraldsen (via Wikimedia Commons)
Born in 1927, Dr Ronald David Laing was a Scottish psychiatrist who was way ahead of his time in understanding mental illness. The prevalent psychiatric methods were limited to drugs, electroconvulsive therapy and insulin coma therapy. Dr Laing studied various types of psychoses and was among the first analysts to suggest that patients’ thoughts and feelings should be taken into account during treatment, instead of being dismissed as a symptom.
3. Dr Robin Warren and Dr Barry Marshal: Identified H. pylori bacteria as a cause of peptic ulcers
Image Credits: A friend of Akshay Sharma (OTRS submission by Akshay Sharma) (via Wikimedia Commons)
Image Credits: Barjammar (via Wikimedia Commons)
Both Australian physicians, Dr Robin Warren and Dr Barry Marshall worked together for seven years to discover the role of Helicobacter pylori in causing peptic ulcers and gastritis. This helped researchers understand the link between H. pylori infection and stomach cancer. Their historic discovery was not initially accepted in mainstream science, as most people at the time believed that peptic ulcers were caused by spicy foods and stress—but the duo went on to win the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2005.
4. Dr Paul Farmer: Providing high quality medical care to impoverished people
Image Credits: Cjmadson (via Wikimedia Commons)
Born in 1959, Dr Paul Farmer is an anthropologist and physician. He is well known for his attempts to provide quality medical care to people in rural areas of developing countries who do not have access to such resources. In 1987, he co-founded Partners in Health, a non-profit initiative that was aimed at bringing medical care to underprivileged people. PIH began its work in Haiti, but has since gone on to have a global impact. Dr Farmer also has ongoing healthcare projects in Russia, Rwanda, Lesotho, Malawi and Peru.
5. Dr Ben Carson: First surgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins who were joined at the head
Image Credits: Gage Skidmore (via Wikimedia Commons)
Dr Ben Carson was the first to succeed where many other doctors had failed. Separating conjoined twins who are joined at the head is an extremely risky operation, as the twins often share important blood vessels. In all previous attempts, one or both the babies did not survive the procedure. In 1987, Dr Carson successfully undertook a 22-hour operation to separate conjoined twins Patrick and Benjamin Binder, who went on to live individual lives. In 2008, American President George W Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.