Friday, July 23, 2010

Stories from the Clippings

Is That an Elephant in the Room?

Dr. Charles Dotter was known around here as an innovator (the father of interventional radiology, no less) and a character. A lecture given by Paul Yock, of Stanford University, titled, "Beginning of Less Invasive Cardiac Techniques: Charles Dotter", is described thus: [It]"tells the story of how less invasive cardiac techniques got started. He [Yock] shares a video clip from Charles Dotter, better known as "crazy Charlie". Caveat: He said it, not me.

Well, "crazy Charlie" did a lot of things in his life including racing cars, climbing mountains, and film making; and "like many innovators, he had a drive and style that put him, and too often his ideas, outside of the mainstream." So, he did some things that were a bit surprising, like what you will read about here.

It was reported in August of 1954, that there was a terrible accident at the zoo. Rosy had fallen off of her water trough. Rosy was a four year old elephant that had just arrived in Portland in 1953, just a year after Charlie came to work at the University of Oregon Medical School. She was the first Asian elephant to ever live in Oregon. And here she was, climbing her water trough only to fall, injuring her leg.

The veterinarians at the zoo noticed that she was conspicuously favoring one of her amazingly large pachydermial legs. The doctor, T. H. Reed, after he had taken a look at a few preliminary x-rays of the injured foot, said that he didn't think there were any breaks. But Rosy did have a very thick hide and mighty big bones and it certainly wasn't easy to make any firm determinations from the radiographs produced at the zoo's clinic. So what else could they do? They called in Charlie Dotter, the new professor of radiology at UOMS. Charlie had already made a name for himself for his early work at Cornell University, where his imagination, innovation and skill coupled with his energetic spirit had advanced radiologic technique.

Charlie wanted to bring Rosy to the school, where the equipment was bigger and more powerful… but Rosy was having none of that. She was hurting and thrashing about so, that it seemed impractical to transport her. So, that begs the question of how did Charlie think that they would get her into the Department of Radiology? Through the front door?

Anyway, the way that it worked out was that Charlie, William Compton and Bill Sandburg brought the special equipment from UOMS to Rosy. After taking some "pictures", it was at last determined that Rosy had no fractures. She became the matriarch of a growing herd, giving birth to six calves before her death in 1993. On August 31, 1994, her daughter Me-Tu became the first elephant in North America to have twins. On August 23, 2008, her granddaughter Rose-Tu (the surviving twin) gave birth to Samudra, the first third-generation elephant born in the United States.

So all's well that ends well, and so it is that we have another good story to tell about Charlie.

Have you heard the one about the Penguins?

Articles referenced: f1p_41_a7,12

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