Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Screw Government Licenses: The Non-Licensed "Fake" Doctor Who Saved Thousands of Babies That Hospitals Couldn't


By Larry Getlen

Fake doctor saved thousands of infants and changed medical history

When Marion Conlin gave birth to twins earlier than expected in a Brooklyn hospital in May 1920, one of her babies was already dead. Her doctor bluntly told the woman and her husband, Woolsey, “Don’t rush to bury that one, because you will need to bury the other one too . . . She’s not going to live the day.”

But Woolsey was not giving up on the other so easily.

The couple had honeymooned the previous year in Atlantic City, and Woolsey recalled a sideshow exhibit featuring prematurely born babies whose lives were saved right there on the boardwalk. Resting in new machines called incubators, the babies made medical history while serving as a prime attraction for gawking tourists.

Woolsey also remembered hearing that the same doctor had set up a similar exhibit in Coney Island. So while their own doctor tried to convince them that all was lost, Woolsey grabbed his 2-pound daughter, ran from the hospital and hailed a cab, hoping the Coney Island sideshow could save her life.

A new book, “The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies,” by Dawn Raffel (Blue Rider Press), tells the story of Martin Couney, a self-appointed “doctor” — his credentials turned out to be nonexistent — who nonetheless saved thousands of infants, and introduced incubators to the modern world.

Read the rest here.