Comment: An incredible post from his blog.

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An incredible post from his blog.

http://www.aaronsw.com/weblog/semmelweis

The title to the post is "Look at yourself objectively" and he begins with a synopsis one of my favorite books - "The Cry and The Covenant."

Aaron writes:
"In the 1840s, hospitals were dangerous places. Mothers who went in to give birth often didn’t make it out. For example, at Vienna General Hospital’s First Obstetrical Clinic, as many as 10% of mothers died of puerperal fever after giving birth. But there was some good news: at the Second Clinic, the number was just 4%. Expectant mothers noticed this — some would get down on their knees and beg to be admitted to the Second Clinic. Others, hearing new patients were being admitted to the First Clinic that day, decided they’d rather give birth in the streets.

Ignaz Semmelweis, an assistant at the First Clinic, couldn’t bear it. He began desperately searching for some kind of explanation for the difference. He tested many things without success. Then, in 1847, Semmelweis’s friend Jakob Kolletschka was performing an autopsy when a student accidentally poked him with a scalpel. It was a minor injury, but Kolletschka got terribly sick and ultimately passed away, with symptoms rather like the what the mothers had. Which got Semmelweis wondering: was some “deathly material” on the corpses responsible for the deaths?

To test this, he insisted the doctors begin washing their hands with chlorinated lime (which he found best removed the stink of death) before handling the pregnant women. The results were shocking. In April 1847, the mortality rate was 18.3%. Semmelweis instituted handwashing in mid-May and by June the mortality rate had crashed to 2.2%. The next month it was even less and later that year it reached zero — for the first time ever.

You’d think doctors would be thrilled by this incredible discovery. Instead, Semmelweis was ridiculed and attacked. He was fired from the hospital and forced out of Vienna. “In published medical works my teachings are either ignored or attacked,” he complained. “The medical faculty at Würzburg awarded a prize to a monograph written in 1859 in which my teachings were rejected.” Even in his native Vienna, hundreds of mothers continued to die every year.

Semmelweis turned to alcohol and his behavior became increasingly erratic. In 1865, he was committed to a mental institution. There he was beaten by the guards, placed in a straitjacket, and locked in a dark cell. He died shortly thereafter, at the age of 47, from an infected wound."

Please go to the website to read his insight into this incredible story, and ask yourself why someone with this type of view on life last August would be suicidal today?

Aaron, however you died, may you rest in peace. I never knew you and yet somehow I miss you.

Love or fear? Choose again with every breath.