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Depression not reason for death from appendicitis

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POSTED March 24, 2009 4:18 a.m.
Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

I have seen more than one reference (the latest being in the Manteca Bulletin from Scott Sadlowski) to a young man being ‘allowed’ to die from appendicitis during the Depression because his parents could not afford the medical attention he needed.

I have some experience with this since my appendix ruptured in 1969. I had appendicitis occasionally during childhood (during WWII), although it was uncomfortable when I had an attack, no one wanted to remove it unless it became ‘acute.’ When it did rupture, every antibiotic available at the time was given to me to save my life and that of my unborn child.

Appendicitis, as far as I know, does not kill until it ruptures. When it does, the infection is sent throughout a person’s abdomen, infecting whatever it touches causing what is called peritonitis, similar to blood poisoning, according to my surgeon at the time. This is what kills a person with a ruptured appendix. I don’t believe surgery would save anyone with peritonitis without antibiotics.

Prior to WWII, penicillin was not widely used, nor were its applications widely known because it was still in the experimental stage; nor were any of the other antibiotics common today available. If the operation were performed before the rupture, that might have been a different story, but medical care was very rudimentary compared to modern times. I cannot see using the Depression as an example of how universal health care would have helped in any event since nearly everything was different from today. It is like comparing apples to oranges.

Marie Evans
Manteca
March 7, 2009

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