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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Sir Alexander Fleming: Countless Millions Saved

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

When Alexander Fleming’s picture turned up on the front cover of Time magazine, the byword stated “His penicillin will save more lives than war can spend”.  A vivid example of this ‘miracle’ was the usage of penicillin on D-Day to save 3,000 on Normandy Beach from deadly gangrene.  Some researchers consider penicillin to be one of the key top-secret weapons that helped the Allies win World War II.

It is hard for our modern generation to fully appreciate that before penicillin, even an infected pinprick or a tiny cut might be lethal.  Hospitals were full of people with easily caught infections raging out of control.  Children died regularly from scarlet fever, from infections of the bones, throat, stomach, or brain.  It is no exaggeration to say that many of you reading this article would not be here today if it weren’t for the miracle of antibiotics touching you and your extended family.

In 1881, Alexander Fleming was born in Ayrshire in the lowlands of southwestern Scotland.  A playground accident smashed the bridge of his nose and left him looking like a battered boxer.  Andre Maurois said that Fleming had those qualities which many attribute to the Scots: a capacity for hard and sustained work, a combative spirit which refuses to admit defeat, a steadfastness and loyalty which creates respect and affection, and a true humility which protects against pretentiousness and pride.

Affectionately called Little Flem, his gift of silence appeared to be inexhaustible.  One colleague said that Fleming ‘could be more eloquently silent than any man I have ever known.’  His capacity for silence was only matched by his capacity for waiting – and for hanging on, an attribute that greatly helped him in his penicillin adventure.

The body’s fight with infection was Fleming’s abiding interest.  One of Fleming’s first breakthroughs was in the discovery of lysozyme, a natural antiseptic contained in human tears and saliva.  Fleming’s method of collecting lysozyme was to recruit a passing student or laboratory boy and drop lemon juice in his eye!  Eventually Fleming switched to the use of egg white which has a stronger concentration of lysozyme.

Lysozyme, unfortunately, ended up being an embarrassment to Fleming because it proved useless in killing harmful diseases.  As a result, his fellow colleagues mostly treated Fleming’s later penicillin discovery as if it were another laboratory dead-end.  Alexander Fleming always said, ‘We shall hear more about lysozyme one day’.  With thousands of scientific papers now written about it, the Russians use lysozyme for preserving caviar; doctors add lysozyme to cow-milk to reproduce the component structure of human milk, as well as for the treatment of eye and intestinal infections.

Fleming, being a ‘packrat’, never liked to throw anything away.  One day, Fleming noticed a blue mould growing on one of his unwashed petri dishes.  He seized the moment and changed the world forever.  From that moment, Fleming became obsessed with penicillin mould, even using his friends’ moldy old shoes. Fleming showed amazing ingenuity in his makeshift creation of the first penicillin ‘factory’, employing devices like oilcans, biscuit tins, dustbins, bedpans, milk churns, and bookracks!

For twelve long years after his 1928 discovery of penicillin, Fleming faced skeptical indifference.  Penicillin was a medical Cinderella that no one wanted to dance with.  ‘The man of genius’, writes Lord Beaverbrook, ‘ is often an egotist. When, as sometimes happens, he is simple and retiring, the world is inclined to underestimate his gifts…’

In 1937 Howard Florey and Ernst Chain of Oxford purified Fleming’s lysozyme.  From there, they purified Fleming’s penicillin, making it stable, concentrated, and more useful.

When Alexander Fleming turned up in Oxford, Chain was taken completely by surprise.  He had thought that Fleming was dead!  Fleming generously said of the two,‘We all owe a lot to Florey, Chain and their co-workers.  They did not initiate penicillin but they put it on the map as an effective drug.’

By freeze-drying it at a low temperature with a neutral pH, Chain and Florey were able to purify penicillin to become a thousand times more powerful than Fleming’s original mold.  Once completely purified, penicillin became a million times stronger than at first!

By one biographer’s account, Fleming was given 25 honorary degrees, 26 medals, 18 prizes, 13 decorations, the freedom of 15 cities and boroughs, and honorary membership in 89 academies and societies.  Both Florey and Fleming were knighted in 1944, and in 1945 Fleming, Florey and Chain were jointly given the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine. Medical centers, research institutes, and even a moon crater were named in honour of the beloved ‘father’ of penicillin.  It meant a lot to Fleming as a Scot when he was elected as Rector of Edinburgh University in 1951.  When Fleming received an ovation at a Spanish bullfight, 20,000 fans broke out into mass hysteria.  The famous Spanish scientist Don Gregorio Maranon said of Fleming that ‘God selected him to carry out the greatest miracle which humanity has ever seen’.

Yet despite all the honours showered on Fleming, fame didn’t spoil him.  He remained a simple humble man, not even bothering to patent penicillin for personal profit.  When Fleming was asked to what he attributed his success, he said: ‘I can only suppose that God wanted penicillin, and that this was his reason for creating Alexander Fleming.’

Countless millions have been saved physically through Fleming’s sacrificial work on penicillin. Countless millions have been saved spiritually through Jesus’ sacrificial work on the cross.  When is the last time that we thanked God for such amazing acts of generosity?

 

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

 

 


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Prayer Really Changes Things…

By the Rev. Dr.  Ed HirdPraying Hands picture

The story is told of two men, Harry and Stan, who have known each other for some time.  Harry has fallen upon hard times and has come to his old friend asking for some help.

 “Why come to me?”, Stan asks.  “Why should I help you out?  What have you ever done for me?”

 “What have I ever done for you?”, Harry gasps.  “Why, don’t you remember when your house burned down several years ago, and you and your family moved in with me?”

 “Yes, I remember.  But…”

 “And what about the time your child was in danger of drowning and I jumped into the lake to rescue him?”

 “Yes, but…”

 “And how about the time that you lost your job and I gave you all that money?  Don’t you remember?  I’ve done lots for you through the years!”

 “Everything you say is true enough”, Stan says.  “But what have you done for me lately?”

Most of us on the North Shore have many things to be grateful for: employment, children, family, food on the table, a roof over our head, the forest, the mountains, the beaches, the sunshine.  All these things are wonderful gifts from God.  Prayer is simply a way of saying “Thank you” for all these wonderful gifts.  It  is so easy to grumble and complain.  It takes work to be grateful and thankful for what we have.  When we make the decision to say “thank you”, things begin to change in our lives.  When we make the decision to acknowledge our “Higher Power”, more peace and contentment can enter our personal lives.  Prayer really changes things, but first it changes us!

 

Dr. Reginald Bibby, the famous Canadian sociologist, has done some very interesting statistical research on the prayer habits and beliefs of Canadians.  He found that 75% of Canadians pray privately at least once in a while, 30% pray daily, and 28% say grace before meals at least once a week.  Close to 50% of Canadians acknowledge the possibility of having experienced God’s presence in their daily lives.  Bibby also notes that more than 40% of the nation’s 15 to 19 year olds believe that they have experienced God.  Clearly prayer is still a meaningful activity for the vast majority of Canadians.  But Canadians, especially the Baby-boomers, are wanting prayer to be much more experiential and informal than in the past.

 

Even though Canadians are people of prayer, they are also very private about their prayer lives.  Often even their spouses, or their closest friends don’t know about the extent of their prayer lives.  In previous decades, the taboo subjects were sex, death, and politics.  In our “liberated” age, the one topic that people still feel embarrassed to mention in polite conversation is their prayer lives.  Yet studies, referred to in DSCF3321Newsweek, show that spouses who can pray together report greater degrees of marital satisfaction and greater sexual intimacy.  One study showed that while up to 1 in 2 marriages break up, only 1 in 20 marriages break up where both of the couple regularly attend church.  More significantly, the study showed that only 1 in 200 couples break up where both couples go to church regularly and pray together on a regular basis.  It is encouraging to see research confirm the historic belief that “the family that prays together stays together.”  Prayer, it seems, really changes things.

 

Even medical science is beginning to confirm that prayer really makes a difference in the health and recovery of individuals.  In an experiment at San Francisco General Hospital, reported in the Southern Medical Journal,  a researcher asked outsiders to pray for a group of cardiac patients.  Even though the patients weren’t told that prayers were being said for them, the study found that they recovered faster than those in an otherwise identical control group.  Studies by Harvard Cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson showed that patients that prayed were more successful at lowering metabolic rates, slowing the heart rate and reducing other symptoms of stress.  Even science is showing that prayer really changes things.

My prayer is that more and more of us will be able to break the taboos around prayer, and begin to discover for ourselves that prayer really changes things.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-author of the award-winning book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

for better for worse-Click to check out our newest marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #102-15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, Canada V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca