Memphis – The Incredible Story of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital



Danny Thomas made good on a promise to St. Jude Thaddeus on February 4, 1962 when he opened St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Danny had asked St. Jude for guidance in life in exchange for a promise to create a haven for the helpless. A facility where research would shine light into the darkness. A place of compassion that would treat children regardless of race, color, creed, or their family’s ability to pay. When his entertainment career took off, he made good on his promise.

“It took a rabble-rousing, hook-nosed comedian to get your attention, but it took your hearts and your loving minds and your generous souls to make this fabulous dream come true…. If I were to die this minute, I would know why I was born.”
– Danny Thomas at St. Jude opening, February 4, 1962

Sick child in bed with teddy bear

One of a Kind

When St. Jude’s opened, the survival rate of childhood cancer was less than 20%. For the most common childhood cancer, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the survival rate was a tragic 4%. Yet, there was no facility in the world dedicated to finding cures. The hospital hired a maverick doctor to lead it from the beginning. His peers didn’t believe a cure for these diseases could be found. But by creating a regiment of treatment that included multiple cancer medicines combined with radiation therapy, Donald Pinkel, MD turned the numbers around and the survival rate began to improve. A legacy of Memphis was born.

1965 – The first immunologic method to diagnose solid tumors in children is developed at St. Jude.

1966 – A group of St. Jude patients are the first acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients to ever be successfully taken off therapy, based on evidence that remission can be sustained.

1968 – St. Jude researchers find that chemotherapy is effective against Ewing sarcoma, one of the most frequent malignant bone tumors in children. When combined with radiation, this treatment causes the survival rate to improve significantly.

1969 – St. Jude research had shown that 25% of low-income children in Memphis were anemic, about one-third had parasitic infections, and about 10% had growth impairments. St. Jude enrolls thousands of local infants in a successful nutritional program, which serves as the prototype for WIC, the federal health and nutrition program for women, infants, and children.

A Vision For the Future

The true measure of our success will be our ability to give children the lives they deserve: that first step, first day of school, first date, first job. A lifetime of everyday moments.

                                                            -The St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital Motto

For more than 50 years, St. Jude has led the way in researching and treating pediatric cancer and other life-threatening diseases in children. Few, if any, other organizations in the world are credited with as many paradigm shifting discoveries as St. Jude is. As a single example, researchers at St. Jude discovered that bone marrow transplants can cure sickle cell disease. These are the researchers that also found that personalized chemotherapy is much more effective than generic treatment and that radiation therapy is not needed for most common childhood cancers.

The question that St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital continues asking is “given all the progress that’s been made, what could possibly be next?”

Today, St. Jude’s is researching the world’s largest project to sequence the complete genomes of pediatric cancer cells. This project is generating a remarkable amount of new knowledge to drive improved diagnosis, treatment, and perhaps even prevention of pediatric cancers.

To learn more and become part of the solution, please follow this link to make a donation: http://www.stjude.org/about.

Please leave a comment if this article was helpful or if you have a question.

Brian KlineAuthor bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 30 years and writing about real estate investing for seven years. He also draws upon 25 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest in the Olympic Mountains with the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.

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