STORIES
Lifesavers Heroes

Albert Sabin

by Avery

Dr. Albert Sabin
Many heroes in books and myths have superpowers, but my hero, Albert Bruce Sabin, was more than that. He confronted the global poliomyelitis epidemic that was crippling thousands of the world's children. He was also known as a kind, intelligent man, and friend to many people. I admire him and I strive to push myself as he did.

Dr. Sabin was born in Bialystok, Poland on August 26, 1906, to Jacob and Tillie Saperstein. He emigrated to America in 1921. At age 24, Albert Bruce Saperstein became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. and changed his last name to Sabin. He became interested in medical science and studied medicine at New York University, graduating in 1931. Sabin went on to train at Bellevue Hospital in medicine, pathology, and surgery. He studied virology at Rockefeller Institute before he joined the Department of Pediatrics at Cincinnati. It was in Cincinnati that he completed his research and developed the vaccine that was launched in 1955 and has played a key role in nearly eradicating polio.   

Polio was a life-threatening disease that crippled and paralyzed thousands of people a year. (President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a victim.) In extreme cases, polio paralyzed the breathing muscles and killed the victim. The disease mainly affects children under five years of age and so, before the vaccine, many parents were so fearful of their children catching polio that they kept them inside during the summer and never let them go to crowded places. 

Dr. Jonas Salk had created a previous polio vaccine in 1953, but his vaccine was harder to administer, more expensive, and the effect of the immunization did not last as long.

In 1970, the president of the United States presented Dr. Sabin with the Medal of Science. The caption on the plaque read, "For numerous fundamental contributions to the understanding of viruses and viral diseases, culminating in the development of the vaccine which has eliminated poliomyelitis as a major threat to human health." As proof of his lifelong dedication to the medical science, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

With the permission of his wife, the Sabin Institute was founded in 1993 – Dr Sabin had stated that, “It could not be started until he died."  Today it works on giving vaccines for polio, rubella, pneumonia, and rotavirus and developing new vaccines to prevent hookworm and other infectious diseases. These are all vicious diseases, which still take lives. The Sabin institute is a non- profit organization that has saved many lives through its work.

Not only did Albert Sabin save the lives of numerous children around the world when he lived, but his work continues through the Sabin Institute which preserves his memory and lifelong dedication. Growing up, Dr. Sabin experienced discrimination because of his race and religion, but, despite this, he found the courage to become a legacy in the medical world. Throughout my life, Dr. Albert Sabin will always be my hero.

 

Page created on 11/17/2012 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 8/24/2021 6:11:52 PM

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