• Ever dreamt of attending the premiere of Oscar Wilde’s play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’,going to the opening of Moulin Rouge in Parisor experiencing the Roaring Twenties dancing in Chicago? Sure it would be so exciting! 

    But have you ever thought how different – and challenging – would have been our lives if we were born just one century ago? In fact, have you ever thought how long would have been your life?

    Let’s see how extraordinary have been medical improvements in the last century…

    • Penicillin, the first antibiotic discovered, was identified by Alexander Fleming in 1928. Numerous diseases caused by bacteria, such as tuberculosis, have been nearly eliminated ever since.
    • Antibiotics, whose full use took off in the 1960s, have made it possible to treat a wide range of previously fatal diseases, including typhoid fever and syphilis - not bad for something discovered from mold! 
      By way of example, smallpox had been killing a large percentage of the global population since Pharaoh’s losing billions of people across all ages. Since vaccines occurred the disease has been wholly eradicated since 1977, together with many others which are almost eliminated.
    • X-rays were discovered by Roentgen in 1895, and since then medical imaging has constantly evolved: 1946 – Nuclear Magnetic Resonance; 1955 – Ultrasound for medical diagnosis; 1967 – CT scanning conceived; 1973 – first MRI images produced...The beauty inside is finally visible!
    • Laparoscopic surgery is a form of diminished invasive surgery where instruments are inserted through some small incisions in the skin rather than requiring full-scale surgery. This has radically altered speed and prevalence of surgery, reducing incision size, recovery times and most importantly, the pain! 
    • Organ transplants, originally conceived in science fiction to create the likes of Frankenstein, were first  performed successfully in 1954 with a kidney transplant in Boston. The latest frontier for organ replacements is now through 3D printing!In 2013, Cornell University researchers printed an outer ear that worked like and resembled the real thing. 
    • Gene Therapy In 1968  Holley, Khorana and Nirenberg won the Nobel Prize "for their interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis," changing the way almost all diseases are diagnosed and treated. Gene therapy effectively modifies our DNA to treat disease, rather than just treating the symptoms as most drugs do. A true game changer that the scientists are only really beginning to fully utilise now. 
    • Stem cells, first discovered in the late 1970s are the magic units of unspecialised cells that can renew themselves through cell division even after being inactive, and under certain conditions can be used to make any type of human cell. Ongoing research is using stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries and a number of neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’ and strokes.

    In large part to these kinds of medical innovation over the last century is how we come to live in the safest and most prosperous times on earth that have ever existed! 

    Roughly speaking human life expectancy has doubled in the last 2 centuries alone!! 

    Here’s a personal story I’ll share to show how fortunate I am to live in this age and times.  

  • Aged only 5 weeks old, I was presented before an audience of expectant doctors and surgeons and duly fed. Not much activity for a while. I gurgled and burped. A little waving and movement. And then happily projectile vomited my entire feed several feet across the room. I wasn’t too well!

    The gathered intelligence discussed the situation and concluded with diagnosis of Pyloric Stenosis - a “terrifying condition” where the failure of a muscular valve blocks food from passing through the stomach. I couldn’t hold anything down at all. Rather, in quite some style I would projectile fountain it all back up! 

    There are accounts of the condition as far back as 1778, and of course in those days, babies simply perished. In 1912, a surgeon called Rammstedt pioneered a procedure where he split the offending muscle allowing food to pass into the intestine. And at 6 weeks old in Leeds General Infirmary a surgeon performed this same Rammstedt Pyloromyotomy on my own stomach.

  • Had I been born only 100 years earlier, I simply wouldn’t be here to tell you the tale!

    It’s truly a miraculous time to be alive! Don’t forget that - despite what we read and see in the media - we live in the safest and most prosperous times on earth that ever exist! And most of us, irrespective of nationality, gender, age will live approximately double the length of life we would have expected a couple of hundred years ago!

    Have a great, healthy day,