Died At Age: 49
Sun Sign: Pisces
Born in: Gravenhurst
Famous as: Physician
father: Rev. Malcolm Nicolson Bethune
siblings: Janet, Malcolm
place of death: Tang County
discoveries/inventions: Developing Mobile Medical Units
education: University of Toronto
Norman Bethune was a great physician who dedicated his services for the welfare of humanity. His works were focused mainly on the poor in Canada. He is known best for his service during the World War I. He is revered as a unique personality in the history of medicine, owing to the materialization of the concept of ‘mobile medical unit’ into realization. He deployed his efforts, skills and prodigious energy in teaching, inventing surgical instruments and encouraging social justice. Some of the surgical tools developed by him are used in surgeries even now. Norman Bethune was a dynamic person and an inspirational figure who did his best to save other’s life. Bethune is still remembered in Canada as a medical genius, while in China he is revered as a saint. His enduring medical achievements made him a hero in the People’s Republic of China. Read more to find out about this renowned personality in medicine.
Norman Bethune was son of Rev. Malcolm Nicolson Bethune, a small town pastor, in Gravenhurst, Canada. He had two siblings—a sister Janet and brother Malcolm. He attended Owen Sound Collegiate and Vocational Institute (OSCVI) and graduated from there in the year 1907. He then joined the University of Toronto in 1909. He took one-year break from studies in 1911 and volunteered as a laborer-teacher with Frontier College, educating mine laborers to read and write English. He once again put his medical education in hold in 1914, when the First World War was declared. With the intense feel of patriotism from within, he decided to join the No. 2 Field Ambulance in France as stretcher bearer. He had to spend three months in an English hospital as he was wounded by shrapnel. After recovering from injuries, he went back to Toronto to pursue medical education and completed his M.D. in 1916. He then joined the Royal Navy and then moved to Canadian Air Force.
Towards the mid 1920s, Norman enrolled for medical studies in London and Edinburgh, and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in the year 1922. Two years later, he opened up a private medical practice in Detroit, Michigan. Unfortunately, his health deteriorated during this time. He discovered that both of his lungs were affected by tuberculosis and consulted the famous Trudeau Sanatorium in New York for treatment. While at Trudeau, Bethune came across a new and considerably controversial treatment referred to as ‘compression therapy’ for tuberculosis or artificial pneumothorax. This turned out to be successful and he recovered completely.
Bethune received remarkable international recognition when Mao Tse-tung, the Chairman of the People’s Republic of China, published a tribute titled ’In Memory of Norman Bethune’ that narrated his final months in China. China has also dedicated statues to this great personality and he is one of few Westerners to receive such a tribute. In Canada, his statue is erected in Montreal’s Norman Bethune Square. In the year 1972, Dr. Bethune was regarded as ‘Person of National Historic Significance’.
Norman Bethune Medal established in 1991, is considered to be the highest honor in terms of medicine in China, which was bestowed by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Personnel of China.
NORMAN BETHUNE TIMELINE
4 March, Norman Bethune was born.
Graduated from Owen Sound Collegiate and Vocational Institute (OSCVI); joined University of Toronto
Abandoned his medical studies when the First World War was declared in Europe.
Went back to Toronto to complete his medical education; received his M.D.
Underwent medical studies in London and Edinburgh.
Elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.
Married Frances Penny; divorced when he develops Tuberculosis.
Opened a private medical practice in Detroit, Michigan.
Served as the first assistant of Dr. Edward Archibald, the Canadian innovator in thoracic surgery in Montreal, Quebec at McGill University.
Married to Frances again.
Improved skills in the field of thoracic surgery; developed several new surgical tools.
Divorced again and forever.
Attended International Physiological Congress in Moscow.
Joined the Communist Party.
Set up a mobile blood transfusion service in November; Provides services to the Spanish Republican Government.
Went to China as medical chief of the Red Army.
Bethune lost his life on 12 November, while fighting for the Chinese.
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