About Children's

1950s

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As the demands upon the hospital grew, its space diminished. So, in 1950, a four-story wing was added to the structure. It was in these halls that a development took place that changed the course of medical history.

While physicians wrestled with the scourge of poliomyelitis, iron lungs were at a premium and serum after serum was heralded as the possible breakthrough. The Bulletin Index of September 16, 1937, captures the tone of Pittsburgh — and the nation — at the time. “Many communities were gravely troubled, postponed the opening of schools, forbade children to attend theatres, parks, go swimming. Chief cause for concern was the incidence of ‘polio’ victims whose chests were paralyzed. Unable to breathe, many were strangling to death over the U.S. because there were not enough mechanical respirators to go around.”

But it was a young investigator testing his ideas in the hallways of Children’s who actually freed children and their families from their paralyzing fear. In 1955 Jonas Salk developed the vaccine that would put an end to the ravages of polio.

While testing the results of research, other activity in the hospital included work in the relatively new specialty of pediatric surgery. And with a $6 million physical expansion in 1957 Children’s now provided 253 beds.

Taken from the Spring 1990 issue of Children's Hospital's COLORS magazine

Last Update
November 6, 2012
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Last Update
November 6, 2012
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