Monday, May 13, 2013

Living your Dream: A Profile in Passion, Dr. Leila Denmark

Photo credit: Lynn Johnson

"Anything on earth you want to do is play. Anything on earth you have to do is work. Play will never kill you, work will. I never worked a day in my life."
Dr. Leila Denmark

I love to write about people who are passionate about their jobs. They really don’t work a day in their lives. It’s so inspirational! I found out about Dr. Leila Denmark while researching another project that I’m working on about amazing women in history.

In an age where medicine was a male-dominated profession, Leila Denmark stumbled upon her passion for healing. She grew up tending to the wounded farm animals on her Georgia farm. She had such a tender heart and a real knack for healing. This talent later translated to tending to humans. She was the only woman who graduated from the Medical College of the University of Georgia in Augusta.

In her 50 years of medicine, she treated thousands of patients in the private pediatric practice she opened in her home in 1930. But she also volunteered at the Central Presbyterian Baby Clinic, where she treated many more children of destitute parents who wouldn’t have been able to afford healthcare. She never turned anyone away.

It was there that she did the research, which led to her development of the invaluable whooping cough vaccine.

She never seemed to tire of treating the many children. Her grandson, Steven Hutcherson has said, She would always say to the next family waiting in line to see her, 'Who is the next little angel?’”

She was a much sought-after doctor in her day. It has been said that she could determine exactly what was wrong just by looking at a child.

In the early 1960s, she began to handwrite her ideas and methods for childcare in  spiral notebooks. Those notebooks would become her privately published book, Every Child Should Have a Chance. It is her legacy, which has helped many parents who didn’t have the opportunity to get her personal counsel.

"She absolutely loved practicing medicine more than anything else in the world," said another grandson, Dr. James Hutcherson of Evergreen, Colo. "She never referred to practicing medicine as work."

 c. 2013

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