Keep the faith

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This column is the second part of another I wrote for the September 2000 issue, “When sick, avoid the hospital.”

It tells the story of my 86-year-old grandfather, Anthony F. DeSorbo, and how his treatment for second- and third-degree burns to a foot took a different course. The injury, which occurred when a pot of boiling water and pasta was dropped on the way to the sink, rattled his immune system and left him susceptible to hospital-borne viruses.

He eventually got better and was discharged, but even my grandfather said he didn't feel the same. In mid-January, he was admitted again, and although at one point he showed improvement, he was just too weak to fight, and he died.

Before he passed away, the registered nurse, John, kept us informed as he worked to determine exactly what was wrong with my grandfather. “It's like fitting puzzle pieces together,” John said, adding that hospital-borne viruses move from patient to patient, often making it even more difficult to give a prognosis, let alone a diagnosis.

John was very helpful and supportive, but his statement and explanation left me angry and alarmed. My grandfather had a full life, but I find it hard to swallow that many doctors and nurses are as helpless as their patients.

At the time, it was easy for me to be resentful and think the worst, but then I remembered a news brief that I filed a few weeks before sitting down to pen this editorial. It reminded me of the importance of faith and hope, values that will forever be passed down.

That news highlights a major advance in contamination control, a milestone that could change the face of healthcare worldwide.

Deemed a “Trojan Horse” technology, NewBiotics Inc. (San Diego) has unveiled a means to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria using a pathogen's own resistance enzyme to release a self-destructive toxin hidden within a medicine with minimal toxicity to the patient (see p. 43). The patented process can be applied to the problem of drug resistance in both cancer and infectious disease—especially hospital-acquired, or nosocomial, infections.

It is indeed a fantastic development, and a great start to a new millennium. With that said, I ask you, not just as professionals, but as human beings, to keep the faith and hope alive in your research and developments because whether you realize it or not, your efforts cradle another very important value: Life.

Mark A. DeSorbo
Associate Editor


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