Monday, March 2, 2015

Anne Fulcher Hunter passes -- one of the last adult eyewitnesses to birth of penicillin

Mrs Hunter was born in Wisconsin in 1916 and died in Virginia in 2014, aged 98.

After she had raised her five children she resumed her career as a doctor, now in psychiatry rather than in pediatrics.

She is in my blog today because while a medical resident at Columbia Presbyterian she learned first hand of Drs Dawson, Hobby and Meyer's pioneering work in saving SBE patients with their own hospital-brewed penicillin.

She learned much more about them when she met and married Dr Thomas H Hunter, also a resident there, who from 1943-1946 became Dawson's lead co-worker in this work.

Hunter also became Dawson's personal doctor in Dawson's final months just before VE Day 1945.

Dawson had held off his case of (then almost always fatal) MG (Myasthenia Gravis) for four and a half years, until he had completed his penicillin-for-all project successfully and the Nazis had been defeated.

Mrs Hunter thus had a ringside seat in the most dramatic years of the entire wartime penicillin saga.

But the time I knew more about her, she was in her late nineties and I was not eager to try and get her permission to interview her.

The only other adult eyewitness to wartime penicillin that I know of that who is still alive is Dr H Boyd Woodruff of Watchung NJ, who is 97 and still actively writing scholarly articles !

Perhaps Anne Hunter and her husband told their children a little of those early penicillin days - I sort of hope so.

If not, maybe my book will tell the Hunter grandkids and kids  just what their grand/parents and great/uncle were up to during the war years....

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