March 10 - Google Doodle!
Today, Google Doodle is celebrating and has dedicated a doodle to celebrate the 142nd birthday of a Chinese Malaysian epidemiologist Dr. Wu Lien-teh, who invented a surgical face mask (that are not being used with Covid-19 vaccine) to combat against a deadly virus in China.
Thanks to him, his invention is still relevant in today’s age when the world is fighting against yet another deadly pandemic: Covid-19.
Here are 10 interesting facts about Dr. Wu Lien-teh and his significant invention:
He was born into a family of Chinese immigrants in Penang, Malaya
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Wu was born in one of the three towns of the Straits Settlement, Penang. The town was part of the colonies of the United Kingdom. His father was a goldsmith and an immigrant from Taishan, China, while his mother’s family belonged to China and was from Hakka heritage. Wu had ten siblings, four brothers and six sisters.
He received his early education from the Penang Free School.
Wu won the Queen’s Scholarship
With the Queen’s Scholarship, Wu enrolled in Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1896. He was a really smart student and won several prizes and scholarships at the university.
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He was a student of the first British Nobel Laureate, Sir Ronald Ross
He spent his initial undergraduate clinical years at St Mary’s Hospital, London and later continued his studies at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine under the mentorship of Sir Ronald Ross. Sir Ronald Ross received a Nobel Prize for his work on the transmission of Malaria.
Dr. Wu Lien Teh’s wife was a daughter of a revolutionary Chinese leader
After returning to the Straits Settlement in 1903, Wu married Ruth Shu-chiung Huang, who was a daughter of Wong Nai Siong, a Chinese revolutionary leader and educator who had migrated to the area from 1901 to 1906.
Wu Lien Teh’s Wife was related to Lim Boon Keng, a physician who introduced educational and social reforms in Singapore
Wu Lien Teh’s wife was the sister-in-law of Lim Boon Keng, a physician who promoted educational and social reforms in Singapore.
Dr. Wu Lien Teh son and wife died in China
In 1907, Dr. Wu Lien Teh family moved to China. During their stay in the country, Wu’s two sons and wife died. He remarried and had four more children.
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He performed his first ever postmortem exam in China on a Japanese woman who had died from the epidemic
The deadly epidemic broke out in the northern region of China in the fall of 1910, taking over 60,000 lives just within 4 months.
After arriving at Habin, Dr. Wu performed his first post-mortem exam on a Japanese infected woman. He found Yersinia Pestis in her body tissues and concluded that it was a pneumonic plague, which could be transmitted through human breath or sputum. Earlier, it was believed that the plague could be transmitted by fleas or rats and not through human contact. His discovery shocked the scientific community, leaving everyone in disbelief.
Dr. Wu convinced Japanese and Russian railway authorities to seize railway operations in light of the epidemic
After the tragic death of a French Doctor Mesney, who fiercely opposed Dr. Wu’s theory regarding the plague, Dr. Wu persuaded Russian and Japanese railway to halt their operations. His well-timed decisions helped limit the plague from spreading in Northern-East China. However, the fatality rate continued to rise, as the dead bodies of those who had died due to the epidemic served as an ideal incubator for the bacteria to grow and mutate.
Dr. Wu sent a petition to sanction the cremation of the deceased
With his proposal, authorities cremated about 3000 corpses and coffins of those who died in the epidemic. His strategy worked, as no further infection was reported in March, 1911. By the time of the Chinese New year, the plague was gone!
Dr. Wu’s work on plague prevention was praised by scientific community
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Following the advice of Dr. Wu, renowned epidemiologists and scientists from the USA, UK, Japan, Russia, and France attended the International Plague Conference, and Dr. Wu was elected as President of the conference.
His work regarding plague prevention was widely praised by all. In fact, he continued to fight against the plague in 1921, and successfully eradicated the epidemic from the region.
Dr. Wu Lien Teh Mask Design N95: he invented N95 Face mask
In an attempt to prevent the plague from further transmission, Wu designed and invented an exclusive surgical mask with gauze and cotton. He added several layers of cloth to filter out viral and bacterial microbes during inhalation. He emphasized wearing it on a daily basis, especially when going out in the public.
Dr. Wu also advised government officials to establish quarantine-stations, limit transportation, and adopt modern sterilization techniques; his contribution helped the government stamp out the pandemic by April 1911.
Dr. Wu passed away at the age of 81
Dr. Wu wrote and published an autobiography called “Plague Fighter: The Autobiography of a Modern Chinese Physician” in his later years in Malaya.
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For his work in Dr. Lien The IOP Clinic, he was regarded as the “father of modern medicine” in China. He passed away on January 10, 1960. Dr. Wu Lien-Teh’s society, scientific and medical communities, as well as the whole world mourned his death deeply.
The Times London wrote an obituary stating, “By his death, the world of medicine has lost a heroic and almost legendary figure and the world at large one of whom it is far more indebted to than it knows.”
Till this day, scientific community honors the memories of Dr. Wu Lien the plague-fighter and adopts his methods to fight against the current pandemic.
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Happy Birthday, Dr. Wu Lien Teh, thank you for your services!
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