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Doug Davison

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 15, 2016

          

                   Dick Davison                                                    Doug Davison     

 

Doug Davison’s Story--

 

The year was 1978.  It was December 14th and Christmas was not far away.  Choir practice was that night and our rehearsal was well underway.  Someone came up to the choir loft to tell me that I had a telephone call.  I hurried down to the telephone and picked up the receiver.  I can't even remember if it was my parents or my sister calling, but I was told that my brother slipped on some ice (in Chicago, where he lived at the time) and he was in serious condition.

 

Calls flew back and forth with my parents (in Hershey, PA) and my sister in Chicago.  I found out that my brother, Dick, had fallen on some ice, while carrying my sister's baby, and had fractured his ankle.  He was taken to the U. Of Chicago Hospital for surgery, but had some complications when his temperature rose dramatically.  It soon became apparent that he could not be saved, even with all of the measures that the hospital staff had available.

 

The whole scenario just seemed surreal.  It wasn't until much later that my father heard the term "Malignant Hyperthermia" from the doctors at the hospital.  No one seemed to know very much about the syndrome, but that was deemed the cause of Dick's death.  My father was much more accepting of the diagnosis than I was.  I immediately thought that it was the fault of the operating doctors.

 

It wasn't until my dad and I traveled to Chicago and I actually signed for Dick's belongings that it became real for me.  I never would get to see him again.

 

As my dad began to research Malignant Hyperthermia, he found that an anesthesiologist in Philadelphia (Dr. Henry Rosenberg) was involved with testing for the problem.  It involved taking a piece of muscle from the leg and exposing it to potent inhalants and caffeine to see if it reacted.  My dad and I decided that we needed to be tested, so that we would know if we carried a gene that would make us (or our family members) susceptible.  Dr. Rosenberg did the test at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital.  My dad's test came up negative, but mine was positive.  When my cousin (Suellen Gallamore) on my mother's side of the family also tested positive, it became clear that the gene was passed along from that side of the family.

 

As a result of the testing, my dad (Owen Davison) and my cousin, Suellen, worked with Dr. Rosenberg to begin an organization that became MHAUS, which has been responsible for the dispensing of important information to anesthesiologists and hospitals regarding the identification and treatment of Malignant Hyperthermia.

 

Although my brother's sudden death was a real tragedy for me and my family, it helped lead to the important work that has saved many lives.

 

As told by Doug Davison

 

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