In the second part of this mini series, we’ll reveal the top six life-saving discoveries in medicine. If you missed the first installment, check our previous blog post to learn about the other six discoveries before reading on.
6. Germ Theory
Prior to the discovery of germs, medical treatments took on an entirely different tactic. Patients were often advised to carry foul smelling items with them in order to ward off “bad air.” Obviously, this didn’t really help, which was proved in 1854 when John Snow discovered that an outbreak of cholera was actually caused by bad water in London. Once he isolated the source, he studied it and discovered germs. Since then, cleanliness has become a staple in modern medicine and numerous other practices, saving countless lives.
Penicillin is a widely used antibiotic that was discovered in 1928 by Alexander Fleming. The discovery is considered to be almost a lucky accident. A petri dish containing staphylococcus bacteria left overnight revealed the antibiotic properties to him when he noticed that a mold was actively repelling the bacteria. This led to the first development of penicillin the drug. Howard Walter Florey picked up the work twenty years laters, and headed the development of the drug for clinical trials. Since then, it has been an important antibiotic for fighting off life threatening viruses and fevers.
C. Roentgen, a German physicist, first discovered the X-ray in 1895 when he was working with a cathode ray tube. He experimented with the way the tube reacted to fluorescent light bulbs and electric voltage, thus discovering the X-ray. The first X-ray picture was a photo of Roentgen’s wife’s right hand with a ring. Since then, it has been used in many capacities to save lives.
3. Measles Vaccine
John Enders (the Father of Modern Vaccine), in conjunction with Thomas Weller and Frederick Robins led the study on the measles vaccine. Following World War II, Enders began a children’s hospital in Boston, where he saw too many cases of measles to count. With effective research and study, he was able to produce the first vaccine in 1963. He had previously earned a Nobel Prize for his work on the polio vaccine.
2. Eradicating Smallpox
The very first successful vaccination was the smallpox vaccine in 1788 by Edward Jenner. Smallpox was then a serious epidemic with the capability to wipe out entire towns. He discovered that if he used liquid from the pustules of cowpox, he could prevent smallpox altogether. The disease has been eradicated in most countries since then.
1. Blood Transfusions
Karl Landsteiner, an Austrian native, was always intrigued by blood, to say the least. He occupied his time studying it’s properties, and soon discovered the four different blood types. That led to the discovery that the body won’t accept blood unless it is from someone with the same blood type. His discoveries have made blood transfusions possible for the world.
Thanks to the many men in history who devoted their lives to the study and development of each of these medical advancements, truly countless lives have been saved. We enjoy the luxury of a higher life expectancy than ever, and thanks to science, these developments are still progressing and improving the overall quality of life day by day.
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