The 1980s Medicine and Health: Headline Makers
The 1980s Medicine and Health: Headline MakersWilliam DeVries
C. Everett Koop
William DeVries (1943–) William DeVries and his surgical team at the University of Utah Medical Center made medical history and national headlines on December 2, 1982, when they replaced the diseased heart of Barney Clark with the Jarvik-7, the first permanent artificial heart ever used for a human patient. DeVries was the only surgeon authorized at the time by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implant an artificial heart into a human. Before the FDA ended the innovative artificial-heart program in 1990, DeVries had performed four such transplants.
Robert Gallo (1937–) Robert Gallo and his research team at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) claimed to have identified in 1983 the human T-cell lymphotropic virus type III (HTLV-III). The following year, he and his colleagues published their findings in Science. Gallo and the other scientists in his laboratory developed a blood test for the virus. Although Gallo and others continued to search for a cure, by decade's end the medical solution to the deadly, slow-acting, changing virus still remained a scientific mystery.
C. Everett Koop (1916–) In 1981, C. Everett Koop became surgeon general of the United States, the nation's leading spokesperson on public-health issues. During his eight-year term, he stood out as a model of integrity and courage in public office, promoting the nation's medical interests over party politics. In 1982, Koop took a hard stand against smoking and the tobacco industry. Addressing the issue of AIDS, he spoke graphically and candidly about safe and unsafe sex practices. Disregarding the Reagan administration, which had appointed him, Koop argued for intensive sex education in the nation's schools.
Ryan White (1971–1990) Ryan White contracted AIDS in 1984 through tainted blood products he was given to treat hemophilia, an inherited blood disease in which the blood does not clot properly, causing excessive bleeding. The following year, he was denied the right to attend school. He and his family took the school district to court, and his successful legal battle made headlines all over the world. Confronted with continued discrimination, White kept up his campaign against widespread ignorance and fear of AIDS throughout the rest of the decade, becoming a celebrity in the process.