Thursday, January 14, 2010

Saving not just lives...

A child bomb-victim receiving penicillin treatment by Ethel Gabain. Painted 1944 and part of the Imperial War Museum Collection it is currently part of an exhibit at the Canadian War Museum.

Gabain's image of the child being treated with penicillin shows her isolated, amid weights and levers and drips that balance and sustain her. However, the overall impression here is of someone safe, protected and, as she engages the viewer, hopeful. Penicillin saved her leg from amputation. This was one of a series of paintings commissioned to display scientific developments. Gabain had lost a child during the war and was herself in poor health when she undertook the commission.

It's important to remember that Penicillin saved not just lives but also numerous limbs which no longer needed to be severed to avoid the potentially fatal effects of infection. Not just in soldiers but in anyone who sustained serious (or sometimes not so serious) wounds from accidents, surgery or any of a dozen other causes.

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