Monday, November 27, 2006

George Wallace and DMSO

Back at work today and moving through the Proof Collection, I came to the folder simply labeled: "Patients." Since patient confidentiality was a concern even before the advent of HIPAA, most of these photos bear no distinguishing names or dates. Meant primarily to show action scenes of health care workers on the job, the pictures neatly document things like uniforms, medical technology, and clinical spaces rather than individual events.

Unless, of course, you get a famous patient. We've had our share, and sure enough, two of the sheets in this particular folder contain images from the July 7, 1980 visit of Governor George Wallace to the then-called University of Oregon Health Sciences Center. The wheelchair-ridden Wallace is shown with surgeon Stanley Jacob, longtime faculty member and tireless promoter of the health benefits of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). Wallace had been paralyzed by a 1972 assassination attempt and he, like many others famous or obscure, came to Jacob in hopes of a miracle cure from the controversial drug. Jacob had achieved national prominence after his appearance with Mike Wallace on the news show 60 Minutes in March 1980. His efforts to have the drug approved by the FDA seemed excessive to some, and he faced two criminal charges of influence peddling in the 1980s.

Jacob has always denied any wrongdoing and remains a vocal advocate for the benefits of DMSO. He talks about his research, his brush with fame, and some of his more notable patients in his oral history interview.

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