The Sinclair Inquiry Into The Baby Deaths-Rush to Judgement-Nuremberg Precedent/Euthenasia
Over the past several days I have been reading portions of the Sinclair Report on the "Baby Deaths"on the Internet (www.pediatriccardiac inquest.mb.ca). I have not completed reading the whole thing (its too gut wrenching), but in my rush to judgement there are a few areas I would like to comment on.
I have yet to see a reference in the Sinclair Report to the term "Northern Babies" that I first saw reported in the Free Press several years ago. I seem to recall that the media darlings in this-the Nurses-managed to alert their friends about the problems of the surgical skills of Dr.Jonah Odim, -but not the families of "Northern Babies." In Tracy Tjaden's excellent piece in Sunday's Free Press, she noted that many of these babies were native (Northern Babies?) or non-white.
I would like to remind the Free Press about the precedent of Academic Medicine testifying over a prolonged period about the treatment about other non-Aryan babies.
In the trial of Drs at the Nuremberg Tribunals one of the first acts of the defendants was the "Euthenasia" of babies born with a hereditary defect not judged to be "brauchbarber Volksgenosse" (useful racial compatriot). Begginning in 1939, the parents were never informed that their sick babies were to be "euthanized", but rather given a story about an operation with great risks, possibly including death, that might cure their child. (In the Sinclair Report a repeated theme was that the parents of the babies were never informed about the risks and surgical reputation of Dr Jonah Odim.The Drs at Nuremberg all claimed that the parents had given"informed consent")
The first victims of the "Progressives" of German Academic Medicine (a very eclectic group. The same figures also led the charge against industrial polutants, and helped draft policies to save Germany from the harmful effects of alchohol, tobbacco, heavy metals and asbestos. They also pushed a diet rich in fruit and fibre and whole grain bread. Do you think I'm making this up?) were infants with heritable defects. The euthanasia program implemented by German Academic Medicine was later expanded to include handicapped children, psyciatric patients,and finally culminating in the experimentation of concentration camp inmates.
The Drs who started in the "Euthenasia" program went on to bigger and better things. They were hanged for experiments on concentration camp inmates. (Bone grafts,limb transplants.They didn't have to worry about protests by Anethecitists. No anashthetic was supplied.Inmates were tested for exposure to prolonged cold, altitude experiments, forcing inmates to drink seawater.etc.etc.) Their defence was a variation of what Judge Sinclair cryptically called "The Learning Curve".
The Nazi doctors wanted to learn about the effects of possible treatments for flyers shot down in the sea or forced to make emergency landings.
"The Learning Curve", according to Judge Sinclair, was the reason, despite the warnings from both the Nurses and the Anethicitists that Odim was allowed to proceed. The memos, the meetings, the conferences, at the H.S.C detailing what happened to the first babies, was spelled out chapter and verse in the Sinclair Report. What Odim, who had impressive paper credentials, had to learn to improve his surgical skills, is spelled out in the Sinclair Report.
In Chapter 5 of the Sinclair report, Judge Sinclair discusses how the H.S.C.never bothered checking with Odim's supervisor in Boston, Dr John Mayer, before Odim was hired.
Sinclair writes (The Boston References Chapter5, www.pediatriccardiac inquest.mb.ca): "Mayer said he was not entirely convinced that Odim had fully grasped some of the concepts that were being employed. From a technical standpoint he said 'I was never comfortable helping him do anything more than relativly simple and straight forward cases,simply because I was not comfortable with his level of technical skills' (Evidence pages 46,045-46,046)
In the case of Norwoods, he said all he would have allowed Odim to do was open and close the chest, and it was unlikely that he would have allowed him to perform the complete the cannulation process on his own... It would be safe to say that Odim's recruitment and hiring was marked by flawed procedures."
I would like to encourage all Manitobans who have access to the Internet to read the Sinclair Report for themselves (www.pediatriccardiac inquest.mb.ca) and make their own judgement about the care those babies received at the H.S.C.
As Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once wrote, "No one has the right to speak for the dead... Still,the story had to be told. In spite of all risks, all possible misunderstandings. It needed to be told for the sake of our children."