Sol Londe: A loving doctor who saved the lives of tens of thousands of children.
A frantic mother is pleading with the doctor, “Please, you must help my child. She is only 4 years old and she’s so sick. I’m afraid she’s going to die.”
The 4 year old looks at the doctor with eyes half open and whimpers weakly, too sick to even cry, as her icy and fragile fingers touch her mother’s arm.
“I understand,” replies the doctor, looking the mother in her eyes. “We can help her,” he adds as he reaches down and gently lifts the tiny girl and cradles her in his arms.
This was Sol Londe, a doctor who cared deeply for his patients, and would gladly treat them even if the parents had little or no money to pay. For money was of no consequence to him.
Caring for humanity was his life and he practiced medicine until he was 95, just 5 years before he passed away at the age of 100 in 2004. A deeply compassionate man, Sol showed it in so many ways. For example:
As a pediatrician he helped establish blood pressure measurements for children and in the 1960’s began convincing other doctors to take those measurements because they are vital in diagnosing childhood diseases.
Today it’s hard to believe most pediatricians seldom measured children’s blood pressure but as a result of that simple process, doctors today save thousands of lives each year. The early onset of diabetes is a fine example of a painful and potentially deadly disease they now diagnose early.
Sol also pioneered the research on children’s hypertension, sometimes called systemic elevated blood pressure, diagnosing or preventing numerous diseases. Heart and kidney disease, tumors, and strokes are fine examples.
For nearly 50 years Sol was in private practice, seeing numerous tiny patients in his hometown of St. Louis. He was also a professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis as he shared his wisdom and influenced the ways in which his students would treat their patients.
But as Sol reached his mid 70’s, it was time to retire, which he did and he moved to Los Angeles.
But Sol would never retire. Soon he became a volunteer doctor at the UCLA medical school. And in his 80’s, he started seeing patients twice a week at the Los Angeles County juvenile detention center as well.
“Sol’s whole philosophy of medicine was to take care of children from low-income families,” his widow Jeanne told the Los Angeles Times.* “He was concerned about diseases poor children develop because of malnutrition and the lack of medical attention.
“Kids involved in the penal system were even more compelling to Sol,” she added. “He wanted to try and keep them from slipping through the cracks.”
But there was another side to Sol. As he practiced medicine over the years, America often went to war. World War ll, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War and as he retired from practice the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In these wars children were killed or suffered severe injuries that required a lifetime of care. Numerous other children were orphaned.
If all that death and destruction and heartache wasn’t enough there was also the Cold War, which threatened mankind with nuclear annihilation.
This insanity was too much for Sol. As busy as he was, he became a peace activist for how could he save children only to have their lives sacrificed in wars. He did everything he could to prevent wars including personally marching in peaceful demonstrations.
Sol also helped found Physicians for Social Responsibility, a global organization determined to rid the world of nuclear arms. In 1985, it won a Nobel Peace Prize.
But even as Sol became a very senior citizen, with his heavily lined kindly old face, gray thinning hair and his thick silver rimmed glasses, he surmounted his aches and pains and kept marching.
In addition, there was another side to Sol that made him so compassionate. He was a family man. In his youth, Sol married Rose Sanel and the young couple had a son and a daughter. As adults, both children followed in their father’s footsteps and became physicians. They made their parents very proud, as they too became involved in public service.
However, life later took a sorry turn. In the 1970’s their mother, Sol’s beloved Rose passed away.
The years went by and in 1983 Sol met his wife Jeanne while both were in Washington peacefully marching against the nuclear arms race. They got married the next year. He was 80 and she was 72. At the center of their wedding cake was a peace symbol and buttons were handed out to the guests that read, “Arms are for hugging.”
“For both of us, injustices made our blood boil,” Jeanne Londe stated.* They got involved in the National Council of Senior Citizens (now called Alliance for Retired Americans) which lobbied to protect Social Security and Medicare and to provide seniors affordable healthcare and housing.
And as an activist, in his 80’s and 90’s, Sol spoke in schools, clubs and elsewhere for affordable healthcare, protection of the environment and in opposition to nuclear weapons.
Compassionate and principled, Sol devoted his life to helping others in need. He believed with all of his heart mankind could heal its own vast ills and build a far better world, peaceful and plentiful and one we could be proud to hand down to our children.
Success Tip of the Week:
The issues Sol actively supported are in great need of attention today. Perhaps you could pick one and raise your voice as you too strive to make a difference.
* Jeanne Londe’s quotes are from: “Sol Londe, 100; Pediatrics Pioneer Was Also Longtime Peace Activist,” his obituary in the Los Angeles Times, 10/22/04, http://articles.latimes.com/2004/oct/22/local/me-londe22
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