Virologist Maurice Hilleman saved millions of children—and stopped a 1957 pandemic - National Geographic
Posted: 29 May 2020 02:25 PM PDT
In April 1957, a mysterious illness was making its way through Hong Kong. Medical workers encountered throngs of children with "glassy-eyed stares," and more than 10 percent of the city's population was infected with influenza. The scientific community stayed quiet, but American virologist Maurice Hilleman recognized the threat: A pandemic was brewing.Hilleman thought the disease was a new strain of influenza capable of spreading around the world. By the time the virus arrived in the U.S. in fall 1957, he was ready with a vaccine. His work prevented millions from contracting the deadly virus—and that's a small fraction of the people Hilleman would save over the course of his career.
Posted: 15 Jun 2020 06:21 PM PDT
Like Little Orphan Annie's half of a silver locket, these trinkets are signifiers of hope, heritage, and remembrance that speak to us hundreds of years later as we still grapple with the legacy of children separated from family as a result of conflict, poverty, immigration policies, or other factors.
From lotteries to "General Reception"
Founded in 1739 by philanthropist Thomas Coram, the hospital began accepting infants under a "first come, first served" basis in 1741. Already overwhelmed with children by the end of its first year, it then switched to a lottery system in which parents were required to choose a ball from a bag. A white ball meant the child could be admitted pending a successful medical exam, black meant he or she would be refused a space, and red meant admission only if another child failed the medical assessment.
Carol Harris, the social historian of the hospital-turned-museum, notes that it was common for Londoners to show up at these lotteries. "It was seen as a form of entertainment in Georgian times," she says. "The governors also fundraised from another public event, the 'ladies' breakfasts,' when you could go and view the children eating."
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