Black Plague I

Lead: In fourteenth century Europe one of the most popular books of the Bible was The Book of Revelation.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts

Content: The last book of the Bible deals with the end of the world: disease, war, famine and death. It is not surprising that people all over Europe thought they were at the end of the time. Between 1300 and 1450 Europeans were subjected to a horrifying series of jolts. Economic and social eruptions and war pounded at the people but the most terrifying curse was the Black Death. Scholars are divided as to the origin of this pestilence but somehow in the early fourteenth century it had spread to the southern districts of Russia and was awaiting a means of transmission. Ironically technological progress improved the way the disease. By 1300 refinements in nautical equipment had made possible year-round shipping throughout the Mediterranean and on the Atlantic seaboard. In early October 1347 a ship left the city of Caffa in the south of Russia bound for the Sicilian port of Messina near the foot of the Italian peninsula. Along with its cargo it played host to its usual compliment of migratory black rats. They in turn were infested with tiny fleas bearing the deadly bacillus, identified in the last century as Pasteurella pestis. It was the cause of the bubonic plague which later came to be called the Black Death.  

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Florence Nightingale

Lead: When Florence Nightingale and her fellow nurses arrived to care for British and allied soldiers in the Crimean War, the military hospital was a mess.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: From Constantinople the military hospital Turkish barracks appeared as magnificent as a Sultan's palace. Up close it was filthy and dilapidated. Food and drugs were running short and the facility was almost without decent medical equipment. Each week the arriving sick increased.


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Constable Alexander’s Fight for Life

Lead: With death clearly at hand, the physicians attending Albert Alexander tried something different.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Albert Alexander was at forty-three a healthy physical specimen, a constable in the police force of the County of Oxford, England. In December, 1940 he was accidentally scratched on his cheek by a rose thorn. The scratch became infected. By Christmas he was fighting for his life in the Radcliffe Infirmary. The villains in his struggle were two fairly common forms of bacteria: Staphylococcus and Streptococcus and they were winning.


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Polio II

Lead: 1916 marked the beginning of a polio epidemic in the United States that would not end until 1955. It did so as one of the major medical success stories of the twentieth century.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Polio, poliomyelitis, also known as infantile paralysis, is a viral infection of the intestinal tract that sometimes can attack the central nervous system and lead to severe muscular paralysis. After the 1916 outbreak, the United States averaged 21,000 paralytic cases per year. During the 1930s and 1940s both private and government research was accelerated to try to find a cure for this dreaded disease. The National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis, now the March of Dimes, was inaugurated by FDR in 1938 for the purpose of raising money, one dime at a time, to fund polio research. Americans waited with not a great deal of patience for a breakthrough.



Polio I

Lead: Summertime in 1930s and 1940s was exciting for children out of school, but a time of fear as well. Parents were worried their children might contract polio.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Poliomyelitis is a viral infection of the intestinal tract. Most cases of polio were mild, headache, fever, sore throat, depression; the patient usually recovers within three or four days. In fewer and more serious cases, the virus penetrates the stomach and intestinal tract, enters the lymphatic system, then the bloodstream and then attacks the motor nerve cells of the spinal cord; if the nerve damage is severe, paralysis will result. Occurring most frequently in children, polio is also known as infantile paralysis.



The First Human Heart Transplantation II


Lead: Building on two centuries of research and experimentation, South African Dr. Christaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Though he was the first surgeon to successfully transplant a human heart, Dr. Barnard was using a technique developed by an American team at Stanford University Medical Center, led by surgeon Norman Shumway, who was considered by many to be the father of heart transplantation. In 1958 Shumway had transplanted the first heart in a dog. He and his associates had spent most of the early 1960s developing heart-lung machines and progressively removing the obstacles to organ transplantation. By the middle of the decade only the issue of immunosuppression seemed to be blocking the way. The body of the patient had a natural tendency to reject donor tissue as an alien to be destroyed.

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The Miracle of Blood Plasma

Lead:  It is ironic that the horrors of warfare often produce advances in science. During World War II the demands of treating battlefield wounded brought about a vast improvement in the delivery of blood.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Combat surgeons in the First World War discovered that more soldiers died from loss of blood than from the physical damage of the bullets that hit them. When blood is drained from the body, arteries tend to collapse. Collapsed arteries cut off the remaining blood supply to the vital organs and as a result, the wounded go into shock. Loss of color, cold, clammy skin, often sudden death.

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