June 14, 2005

They Don't Make NICU's Like They Used To, Fortunately

The Times had two stories recently that look back at old-school pediatrics; it's enough to make you want to hug your neo-natalogist, that's for sure.

  • Sunday was the story of Dr. Martin A. Couney, aka The Incubator Doctor of Coney Island, who put premature babies on display between 1903 and 1940, and in the process pressed for improved neonatal care in the hospitals that rejected them in the first place. Couney's then-radical incubators saved something like 1,200 babies over the decades.
  • Then there's the two specialists in treating meningomyelocele, the most severe form of spina bifida, who argued publically into the 1970's about whether to let children die or treat them, even if they were likely to have significant physical or mental disiabilities later on. Doctors don't make those unilateral decisions anymore, but parents still have to wrestle with them.

    And Next to the Bearded Lady, Premature Babies
    [nyt]
    Playing God With Birth Defects in the Nursery [nyt]

  • 1 Comment

    Three cheers for Doctor Couney! If it weren't for him, my first son (birth weight 2 lbs. 2 oz.) would not have made it. He was otherwise healthy as a horse. He had to spend 45 days in an incubator, or "Isolette" as they call them now.

    Pardon my lack of eloquence, I haven't finished my first cup of coffee yet...

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