Great men dream , but they just do not sit idle. They do what they are passionate about .History just follows them or they create it.Here is a brief story of an ordinary man born in a small European country Lithuania in 1921 ,lived much of his life in the east coast of USA ,transformed into a brilliant cardiologist based in Brigham Hospital , Boston.
He is Dr Bernard Lown , best known as a founder of what is used in every coronary care unit and cardiac surgical theaters around the world . Yes, the DC cardioversion was invented by Lown in the year 1961.(Of course, it was an Improvement upon the pioneering work of Zoll’s AC power line for defibrillating the heart which was impractical and caused much injury )
He was also the brain behind the conversion of local anesthetic agent Lignocaine to cardiac anesthetiic which revolutionized the treatment of ventricular arrhythmia.(What a simple but a path breaking idea to use membrane stabilising action of local anesthesia to sedate the heart when it behaves erratically !)
We can also credit him for rediscovering Digoxin and found the secret that potassium supplementation can largely overcome toxicity of this drug which was otherwise lifesaving in dilated , failing hearts running amok with delirium tremors (Surname for Atrial fibillation in those days !)
While the Invention of DC cardioversion had a dramatic impact all over world , he simultaneously popularized the concept of coronary care units along with Julian in London and Dr Day in Kansas city.
Its said great men’s mind are perennially restless.Accordingly ,he was worried about the impending nuclear war with USSR and other global powers then. He collaborated with Russian cardiologist Dr. Eugene Chazov. It became a hugely popular peace organisation International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPN) for which he got ultimately the Noble prize for in 1985.
It turned out to be “lovely Irony” for a man who probably should have got a Nobel prize for medicine for inventing DC cardioversion , ended up with Nobel peace prize for his fight against a man made disease called “Nuclear proliferation”.
Its heartening to note he has visited my country(India) and was awarded with Mahatma Gandhi peace prize as well.He is now 95, active in Harvard currently turned his vision towards eradicating Inappropriate medical treatment from the noble profession .I wonder , for a man who fought against a nuclear war, what does this new Initiative mean ? Does he equate the medical profession in its current form and the direction in which travels to something that’s grossly unacceptable ?
Whatever it is , I humbly endorse his views and has since dragged me to his Institute.
I just joined the institute and signed a declaration . I wish every physician who take oath on Hippocrates should strengthen Dr Lown’s Doctrine .