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October 13, 1989

The Unfolding of Therapeutic Radiology

JAMA. 1989;262(14):1998-2001. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430140116035

In September 1926, I registered for basic medical studies at the University of Havana (Cuba). In exchange for serving as a scribe in the admission office, I was given room and board in the interns' quarters of the 2000-bed university hospital. Within 3 weeks, a hurricane hit Havana dead center; thousands were killed and many more injured. The flow of casualties was overwhelming and all hands were needed. I learned to place tourniquets and to give ether anesthesia. Blood transfusions required the presence of a qualified donor and were done arm to arm with large syringes.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, I was assigned as a male nurse's aide to apply dressings and give injections in the dermatology pavilion. Professor Pardo-Castelló came early to do his rounds and, in the absence of his interns, I followed him with the order book. In the process, he taught me a lot.