The apostle of medicine on the Caribbean coast

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Man has no nature, he only has history
(José Ortega y Gasset)

“The doctor has to live in his time, he has to be interested in the problems of the society of which he is a part and has to compensate for the specialization to which he must necessarily undergo a broad curiosity, a feeling of human solidarity and universal love” [Augusto Pi-suñer (1879-1965)].

Dr. Luis Carlos Padrón González (Cereté, 02/05/1907 – Magangué, 08/08/1996), is a very high reference of doctors who leave their mark on society due to their high scientific, humanistic, ethical and supportive training.

His experience as a student in the field of Microbiology was fundamental for the excellent practice of medicine. When he was finishing his university studies and at a time when applied medical research was an unknown component, Dr. Padrón shocked the university and scientific circles of Cartagena with the research he carried out to cure the disease of syphilis.

This scientific exploration was carried out in the 1940s and 1941s when Cartagena was infested with malaria, the youth of the Canapote neighborhood suffered from gonorrhea, syphilis and schizophrenia – victims of the
Treponema Pallidum—, there were no sulfa and penicillin was not available despite its usefulness for medicine since 1930, two years after it was discovered by Alexander Flemming.

With his investigative work, he set out to demonstrate – which he more than succeeded – the usefulness to cure syphilis, of the therapeutic indications called “Malariotherapy” -by Wagner Jauregg, which was used in France since 1933, consisting of infesting with malaria-; and, “Pyrethotherapy” —of the Hippocratic doctrine— to treat certain diseases through fever.

The procedure consisted of extracting the blood from malarial patients with plasmodium vivax – a parasite of benign fever – to inoculate it to those infected with late syphilis, and subjecting them to ten febrile attacks that approached 42 °, a temperature higher than the one they resisted. the bacteria causing the infection. The results of this research work are succinct in the degree thesis entitled “Some considerations on Pyrethotherapy of infectious diseases” that he presented to obtain the title of Doctor of Medicine and Surgery, which was granted on October 31, 1941. On January 1, 1942, he opened his office in the house of Don Efraín César Julio, located on Calle de las Delicias.

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Of the plethora of doctors who between 1942 and 1992 practiced in our municipality, Dr. Padrón stood out as the most enthusiastic, self-sacrificing and persistent fighter against pain, illness and death.

In the discipline of what to do in medical care, he moved on the fortunate symbiosis that his good clinical judgment and his experience in the field of Microbiology gave him. These two overlapping aspects, the clinic and the support of his experience in the Laboratory, allowed him to carry out in difficult moments for the patient and the community, timely diagnoses and treatments that his colleagues in the city looked at with great respect.

As an unsuspecting researcher who carefully scrutinized all the advances in the process of curative medicine, he used the cocktail of injectable drugs – up to five, mixed in a 10 cc syringe, for intravenous application – to cure the chronic allergies produced for meat foods, as well as for other infrequent diseases, or in those where the usual therapeutic indication failed.

Likewise, he applied the therapeutic indication of the nasal probe to cure epistaxis. Moistened with lidocaine, it was introduced through the nose and out of the mouth and then moved from top to bottom, as if polishing a shoe, in order to burst the capillaries or small blood vessels located in the septum that separates the nostrils, for de that way empty them and end sudden nosebleeds.

With excellent results, he also used the therapeutic indication called “prolonged sleep cure” or “prolonged narcosis” to cure the insane, from the works of Jakob Klaesi, who from the famous Burghölzli Clinic in Switzerland spread it in the 1920s for the treatment of schizophrenia. It consisted of inducing the patient to sleep with the administration of hypnotic drugs, inducers and perpetuators of the state of sleep, for a period between 6 and 7, or more days, according to the particular need of the patient. He was only awakened to do his physiological needs and feed himself.

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In the field of community care, of social projection, in 1943 he launched the Magdalena Clinic – named after the large river that borders the city – with the paradoxical objective of being a private establishment and at the same time an organization without spirit profit.

Despite the economic losses that always accompanied this institution as a result of generous assistance, for being a fervent practitioner of the Christian proverb “Always give, without sparing anything, that God rewards you double what is given”, he always had the resources necessary for a good life until the date of his death, at 89 years of age. What’s more, he even had left over so as not to leave Luis Ignacio, Rebeca, Simón, Ayda and Enrique Carlos, the children he had with the girl Inocencia Vergara, in poverty.

For the important scientific work he carried out and the invaluable social service rendered with disinterest and dedication throughout his professional career, through Decree Number 1379 of June 20, 1977, issued by the Presidency of the Republic and the Ministry of Health, He was awarded the “Jorge Bejarano” Civic Medal of Care and Health Merit.

In the words he pronounced on July 16, 1977, on the occasion of the aforementioned exaltation, he took the opportunity to highlight the philosophical contradiction between the practice of medicine and the infamous purpose of enriching themselves with it, by pointing out: “For some ‘money It’s the most important thing in the world. ‘ It represents health, strength, honor, generosity and beauty. As undeniably as the lack of it produces sickness, weakness, dishonor and ugliness. But I believe that on the scale of human values ​​there are ideals of higher hierarchy than that of the gifts that wealth bestows.

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For this reason I have always practiced Medicine with the spirit that it demands: with self-denial and detachment, as an apostolate of service for the good of others, especially those who have nothing. I have fulfilled that task that has given me through my long existence deep satisfactions and bitter disappointments at the same time, without paying attention to efforts and sacrifices, because I have always loved and love my profession ”.

The greatest compensation he received for his extensive career was the gratifying enrichment of the conscience that he gave the service he gave with generosity and selflessness to the community.

With this brief semblance of the history of man, of the doctor who lived in his time, who was interested in the problems of society with a feeling of the highest human solidarity, I only pretend to be the voice of those who in gratitude will always remember him as an apostle of Medicine.