In 2016 I wrote about the 3 physicians who ran for President of the United States that year. None of them won but in observance of National Doctors’ Day this month I’m reviewing their stories with updates on what they are doing now.
These profiles are for your “information and inspiration”, and do not imply endorsement or recommendation by me .
Dr. Carson , a neurosurgeon, was one of the candidates for the Republican Party nomination for President in 2016. He suspended his campaign before the convention. President Donald Trump asked him to serve in his Cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Senate confirmed his nomination.
Here are some facts about Dr. Carson taken from his 1992 autobiography
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story which I read and enjoyed.
- Dr. Carson’s mother, Sonya, one of 24 children, married at age 13 ;her husband abandoned her when Dr. Carson and his brother were young boys. An uneducated illiterate woman, she taught herself to read, and required her sons to read books weekly.
- While he was growing up, his family depended on food stamps to have enough to eat.
- At age 8, after hearing a missionary doctor speak at his church, he decided to become a physician.
- He had such poor vision, he was almost legally blind. His grades improved when he started wearing glasses.
- As a teenager, he had such a quick and fiery temper, her feared he might kill someone.
- Both he and his brother were in JROTC while in high school; his brother served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.
- In high school he played clarinet and developed a love of classical music, something he would share with his future wife Candy.
- He chose to attend Yale over Harvard, because Yale beat Harvard in the GE College Bowl television program.
- During college he worked at the Ford Auto plant and at Chrysler.
- He and Candy lived in Australia for one year so he could train in neurosurgery there- and his first child was born in Australia that year.
- His third child was born at home- and he did the unplanned, quick delivery while his mother dialed 911 for help.
The Carson Scholars Fund
Dr. Carson is president and co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments.
The Carson Scholars Fund, Inc. was founded in 1994 to address the education crisis in the United States. Dr. Ben and his wife, Candy were alarmed by the state of American education.
Studies showed that our nation’s students ranked #21 out of 22 countries; next to the bottom of the list in science and math. They observed that many school display cases were filled with large trophies paying tribute to their sports teams’ achievements, while honor students only received a pin or certificate.
Dr. and Mrs. Carson felt compelled to take action. They believed that if children could be taught early to excel in school, they would stay motivated and have a higher chance of educational success later in life. The Carson Scholars Fund was built on these principles.
Recognized by Great Nonprofits as a Top-Rated Nonprofit, Carson Scholars is currently operating in 50 states and the District of Columbia, having awarded more than $ 6.2 million dollars to more than 6200 scholars.
The program also establishes Carson Reading Rooms in schools across the country to encourage young students and their families to discover the pleasure of reading and to recognize the true power of learning. To date the program has established over 100 reading rooms in 14 states in the U.S. (Information found on the Carsons’ Facebook page)
Dr. Carson’s surgical career
Neurosurgery is the surgical specialty that deals with the nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. Long before Dr. Carson became involved in politics, he was known for his pioneering work in brain surgery. He discusses this work in his autobiography, which was also made into a movie of the same name. In the movie, one of my favorite actors, Cuba Gooding Jr., played Dr. Carson.
Dr. Carson specialized in two difficult and dangerous types of surgeries.
In hemispherectomy half of the brain is surgically removed as a treatment for severe, intractable seizures. It is only used as a last resort, is not always successful and can cause paralysis on one side of the body. Dr.Carson was known as an expert in this surgery.
Conjoined or Siamese twins joined at the head are rare, occurring in 1 in 2 million births.
“In 1987, Carson attracted international attention by performing a surgery to separate 7-month-old occipital craniopagus twins in Germany.
Patrick and Benjamin Binder were born joined at the head. Their parents contacted Carson, who went to Germany to consult with the family and the boys’ doctors. Because the boys were joined at the back of the head, and because they had separate brains, he felt the operation could be performed successfully.
On September 4, 1987, after months of rehearsals, Carson and a huge team of doctors, nurses and support staff joined forces for what would be a 22-hour procedure. Part of the challenge in radical neurosurgery is to prevent severe bleeding and trauma to the patients.
In the highly complex operation, Carson had applied both hypothermic and circulatory arrest. Although the twins did suffer some brain damage and post-operation bleeding, both survived the separation, allowing Carson’s surgery to be considered by the medical establishment the first successful procedure of its kind.”(from Ben Carson bio)
One Vote-Make Your Voice Heard
Dr. Carson wrote One Voice-Make Your Voice Heard with his wife Candy Carson. In it, they urge us to use the privilege and power of voting at every opportunity. Here is a link to an excerpt
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Thanks for joining me to meet and honor 3 physicians who sought our nation’s highest office. I thank them for their service to health care and to our government.
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