Categotry Archives: Medicine


Dr. George Tiller


Categories: Medicine

gtiller.jpgGeorge Richard Tiller, one of only a few doctors in America who performed late-term abortions, was shot to death on May 31. He was 67.
Born in Wichita, Kansas, Tiller earned a degree in zoology from the University of Kansas and a medical degree from the University of Kansas School of Medicine. He pursued an internship with the United States Navy, serving two years as a flight surgeon at Camp Pendleton in California, then prepared to specialize in dermatology. Those plans changed in 1970 when a plane crash took the lives of his father, mother, sister and brother-in-law.
The sudden loss of his family left Tiller with two new responsibilities: his father’s medical practice in Wichita, and the care of his 1-year-old nephew. As he prepared to close the family planning clinic, Tiller learned of the region’s need for such services. He also discovered that his father had been providing abortions, then an illegal procedure, to women in need. When the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade case legalized the practice of terminating pregnancies in 1973, Tiller decided to perform them as well.
Over the next three decades, Tiller offered reproductive health care and counseling to thousands of women. His practice, Women’s Health Care Services, became known as one of only three clinics nationwide which would provide abortion after the 21st week of pregnancy. He helped pioneer the use of sonogram imaging during procedures, served as a diplomat of the American Board of Family Practice Physicians and founded ProKanDo, a pro-women, pro-choice political action committee that helps elect abortion rights candidates and supports abortion-friendly legislation.
Tiller’s work earned him numerous awards and honors — including The Christopher Tietze Humanitarian Award and the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights’ Faith and Freedom Award — but also the wrath of the anti-abortion lobby. Protesters regularly demonstrated in front of his office, home and church. In 1986, a pipe bomb blew a hole in the clinic’s outside wall and severely damaged its interior.
Tiller was personally targeted as well. He faced, and defeated, a series of legal challenges intended to shut down his practice. His name and photograph were included on “Wanted” posters and assassination lists, and his home address was published on the Web. In 1993, abortion opponent Rachelle “Shelley” Shannon shot him in both arms with a semiautomatic pistol; she’s still serving time for attempted murder.
Federal marshals protected the doctor between 1994 and 1998, and again in 2001 when Operation Rescue urged thousands of activists to blockade his practice. Tiller installed bulletproof glass on the clinic and hired a private security team to protect the patients and staff; however, these efforts failed to stop the demonstrations, threats and property destruction. Just last month, vandals cut wires to the clinic’s security cameras and outside lights, and cut a hole in the roof. Rain poured through the opening and caused thousands of dollars in damages.
On Sunday morning, Tiller was handing out bulletins in the foyer of the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita when a gunman entered and fired one shot at him. The assailant then threatened two bystanders before fleeing the premises. Several witnesses to the attack were able to describe the suspect to authorities and provide a description of his car and license plate number.
Three hours later, police arrested Scott Roeder, 51, and charged him with first-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault. Although officials said they believed it was “the act of an isolated individual,” they also plan to look into “his history, his family, his associates.” Roeder was previously convicted of explosives charges after the police discovered a blasting cap, a fuse cord, a pound of gunpowder, ammunition and two 9-volt batteries in the trunk of his car. The conviction was later overturned on appeal on the grounds that the search was illegal.
Despite the arrival of paramedics minutes after the attack occurred, Tiller died at the scene. He was the fourth abortion doctor killed in the United States. Tiller is survived by his wife, Jeanne, who was inside the church sanctuary at the time of the shooting, 4 children and 10 grandchildren. “George dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality health care despite frequent threats and violence,” his family said in a statement. “We ask that he be remembered as a good husband, father and grandfather and a dedicated servant on behalf of the rights of women everywhere.”
[Update – Jan. 29, 2010: A jury in Wichita, Kan., deliberated for just over a half hour before finding Scott Roeder guilty of murdering Dr. George Tiller. Roeder was also convicted of two counts of aggravated assault for threatening others in the church. He faces life in prison for the slaying.]


James Richards

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Categories: Education, Medicine, Writers/Editors

jrichards.jpgDr. James Robert Richards, a renowned veterinarian who dedicated his life to helping cats, died on April 24 from injuries he sustained in a motorcycle accident. He was 58.

Although he was born in Richmond, Ind., Richards grew up on a farm in Preble County, Ohio. There were no children his age living nearby so he befriended stray cats. The kinship he formed with these felines would affect him for the rest of his life.

Richards earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Berea College in Kentucky, and a doctorate in veterinary medicine from Ohio State University. He practiced at several small-animal clinics in Ohio before joining Cornell University in 1991 as the assistant director of the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Feline Health Center, a leading facility for feline medical research and treatment. Richards was named director six years later. During his tenure, the center conducted research into feline cardiac disease, coronary thrombosis, hyperthyroidism and cancerous growths called sarcomas. Richards was also the director of the Dr. Louis J. Camuti Memorial Feline Consultation and Diagnostic Service, which answers calls from vets and cat owners at 1-800-KITTY-DR.

A past president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, Richards regularly appeared on television and radio programs to discuss the best ways to raise and care for cats. He lectured to cat owners’ clubs around the country and served as an adviser to Alley Cat Allies, a trap-neuter-return program to manage populations of feral cats.

Richards served as editor-in-chief of CatWatch, a monthly newsletter published by the Cornell veterinary school, penned the column “Ask Dr. Richards,” and wrote and/or edited numerous books and articles, including the “ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats,” “The Well-Behaved Cat: How to Change Your Cat’s Bad Habits” and “The Cornell Book of Cats.”

In his spare time, he enjoyed motorcycling, bicycling, hiking and kayaking. Richards was riding his motorcycle in Willet, N.Y., on April 22 when he saw a cat in the middle of the road. In an effort to avoid hitting the animal, Richards was thrown from his bike and severely injured. He died two days later. The cat died in the accident as well.

“Jim didn’t know how to say no to a good cause, and was always talking about how there was never enough time to do all the things we wanted to do for cats,” said Lila Miller, ASPCA vice president of Veterinary Outreach. “He was an incredible man — brilliant, compassionate, funny, humble, kind, generous, gracious and dedicated. He was a good friend to the ASPCA, and we all are heartbroken.”

The 19th annual Feline Symposium, scheduled for July 27-29 at the College of Veterinary Medicine, will serve as a public tribute to Richards.

Listen to an Interview on Steve Dale’s Pet World


Jean Kennedy Schmidt


Categories: Extraordinary People, Medicine, Military

Lt. Jean Kennedy Schmidt, an American nurse who was held prisoner for nearly three years during World War II, died on March 3 from complications of a fall. She was 88.
Born Imogene Kennedy in Philadelphia, Miss., Schmidt was raised on a farm with her seven siblings. In 1941, she earned a nursing degree from the University of Tennessee and enlisted in the U.S. Army Nursing Corps.
Schmidt was stationed in the Philippines with 98 Army and Navy nurses when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The next day, the Japanese began bombing U.S. bases in the Philippines, including Schmidt’s. Although few of the nurses stationed with Schmidt had experience working in war conditions, they rallied together to build and operate impromptu field hospitals in the jungles of Bataan.
As the Japanese army advanced, the American nurses and other military personnel retreated to the Bataan Peninsula and then to Corregidor, a rocky island in Manila Bay. Amidst almost constant shelling, they set up a hospital in an underground maze of tunnels and cared for wounded civilians and soldiers.
A few of the nurses escaped Corregidor before it fell in May 1942, however Schmidt and 76 other nurses were taken prisoner. The women were sent to the Santo Tomas Internment Camp, where they lived in captivity for nearly three years. During their incarceration, they tended to the injured and diseased prisoners, even though they had no supplies, no medicines and no equipment. Food was also scarce. To stave off starvation and malnutrition, the nurses fried weeds, okra, flowers and roots in the cold cream that came in their Red Cross kits.
Allied forces crashed through the gates of the prison camp in 1945 and liberated the American military nurses who the press dubbed “The Angels of Bataan and Corregidor.” For her courage and exemplary service, Schmidt received many honors, including the Bronze Star and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon.
Three months after her release, Jean married Richard Schmidt, a fellow POW held at the Santo Tomas camp. They settled in California and raised two children. Schmidt continued working as well, providing nursing services at Providence Hospital in Oakland, Mills Hospital in San Mateo and La Vina Hospital in Altadena. In her spare time, she volunteered with the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts, and attended “Angels of Bataan” reunions. Of the 77 “angels,” only three are still alive.


Mason Andrews

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Categories: Government, Medicine, Military, Politicians

Dr. Mason Andrews’ life may best be described by the political slogan he used in the 1974 Norfolk (Va.) City Council race: “Mason Andrews delivers.”
The son of a Norfolk obstetrician, Andrews earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1940 and attended the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. After completing a tour of duty in the Navy, he went back to Johns Hopkins to finish his residency.
Andrews returned to Norfolk in 1950 to open his own OB/GYN office and launch the first answering service for doctors in the area. In the 1960s, he helped raise $17 million to finance a community medical school (which would eventually become Eastern Virginia Medical School). From 1974 to 1990, Andrews served as the first chair of the school’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In 1992, he was elected president of the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society.
Andrews delivered approximately 5,000 babies during the course of his half-century in medicine. But his most famous delivery occurred on Dec. 28, 1981, when he helped bring Elizabeth Jordan Carr into the world. At 5 pounds, 12 ounces, Carr was the first U.S. baby conceived by in-vitro fertilization. Now a newspaper reporter in Augusta, Maine, Elizabeth said Andrews always kept in touch with her, sending cards on her birthday and a gift for her wedding.
In the process of establishing an in-vitro fertilization program at Eastern Virginia Medical School, Andrews persuaded Drs. Georgeanna and Howard Jones to become teachers. The couple had planned to retire from medicine, but at Andrews’ urging, decided to build the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine instead. The program is now a leader in scientific advances of infertility treatment.
Andrews’ dedication to public service extended beyond medicine and education. He spent 26 years on the Norfolk City Council, including a two-year term as mayor, and was known for his dedication to the downtown area’s renaissance. Over the course of his political tenure, Andrews helped transform the waterfront area into a bustling retail and entertainment destination. Port Folio Weekly magazine listed him at #84 in its annual collection of “100 Best People, Places and Things in the 7 Cities” for his work as a doctor, councilman and civic activist.
“He was constantly pushing us as a community to realize and reach our potential. Nothing but the best for Norfolk. He had a high standard of excellence. He was tenacious in everything that he did. I don’t know how you remember him in any other way. His legacy was to instill in all of us reaching for the stars in terms of what’s best for the community,” Cathy Coleman, president of the Downtown Norfolk Council, said.
Andrews died on Oct. 13. Cause of death was not released. He was 87.


John Money


Categories: Business, Medicine, Writers/Editors

Dr. John William Money, a sex researcher and the co-founder of the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic, died on July 7 from complications related to Parkinson’s disease. He was 84.

Born in Morrinsville, New Zealand, Money studied psychology at Victoria University of Wellington and at the University of Pittsburgh. He earned his doctorate at Harvard University after writing a thesis paper on hermaphroditism.

Money was the first pediatric psychoendocrinologist at Johns Hopkins University. He designed the school’s curriculum in sexual medicine and served as a professor of medical psychology and pediatrics for 50 years. In the mid-1960s, Money co-founded the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic with Reed Erickson, a wealthy philanthropist and female-to-male transsexual, and performed one of the first sex reassignment surgeries in the United States.

Money soon gained a reputation as an expert in the sex reassignment field, and was frequently called to testify in court that such surgery was appropriate therapy for people suffering from gender identity disorder. Also known as transsexualism, GID is a psychological condition where a person experiences “strong, persistent feelings of identification with the opposite gender and discomfort with one’s own assigned sex.”

Money believed that gender identity was determined by environment and upbringing as well as biology, and thus could be changed in the first few years of a person’s life. He promoted genital surgery to make intersex infants look more “normal” and social conditioning to alter their gender belief systems. Money put these theories to the test on David Reimer, a Canadian boy who suffered from a botched circumcision operation when he was 8 months old. Money persuaded Reimer’s parents to turn him into a girl, and so David underwent a radical sex-change procedure. He was given female hormones and psychologically trained into believing he was a girl named Brenda.

The experiment was widely considered a success in medical circles. Money published several journal articles about the case, as well as the book, “Man and Woman, Boy and Girl” with Anke Ehrhardt. However, Reimer suffered greatly as the guinea pig in Money’s research project. He was teased by classmates, confused by his gender identity and clinically depressed for many years. After learning the truth of his past, Reimer underwent surgery and testosterone therapy. He changed his name to David and returned to living as a man.

Reimer’s life story served as the basis of John Colapinto’s 2000 book, “As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl.” He appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” and in several documentaries in order to save other children from a similar fate. In 2004, Reimer committed suicide at the age of 38.

Despite criticism from the media, psychologists, scholars and other members of the medical community about the Reimer case, Money refused to alter his gender identity theories. “I don’t mind being wrong a few times because I’m right most of the time,” Money said.

The controversial researcher also theorized about the origins of sexual orientation (which he believed were formed by both biological and environmental factors), and on the nature of attraction (what he called “love maps”). In his testimony before Attorney General Edwin Meese’s pornography commission in 1985, Money stated that sexually explicit photographs and films were not detrimental to minors. That same year, he received the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Award for the Applications of Psychology.

In 2002, Money entrusted his personal collection of papers and published works to the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, and established the John Money Sexology Scholars Library Fund to help pay for the preservation of archives and collections from the sexological community.

Listen to a Remembrance From NPR
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