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M.D.: One Doctor's Adventures Among the Famous and Infamous.


How exciting can the life of a physician be? Since few motion pictures stories have been made of such individuals, we must surmise that the answer is dullness and routine. Dr. Kean may be the James Bond of the profession. However, his biography certainly suggests a life lived with drama and romance.

In an extraordinary career spanning more than 50 years, Dr. Benjamin Kean, a noted parasitologist, pathologist, researcher and educator, has traveled the world to battle vicious and deadly diseases - malaria, toxoplasmosis, traveler's diarrhea, snail fever, trichinosis, and AIDS.

He has also solved dozens of baffling medical mysteries, and rendered services to the Shah of Iran, Salvador Dali, Oscar Hammerstein, and many others whose names were linked with world history. Some of his stories hint at scandal. The Shah, for example, told Dr. Kean that Khomeini would never accommodate the United States. President Carter ignored the warning.

One of the most baffling deaths of his career was the sudden demise of Sherwood Anderson, the literary giant of the 1930s. Several frustrating investigations could not explain Anderson's death until Kean determined that the author had swallowed a fatal toothpick with a martini olive!

His fame, however, rose when he became a specialist in tropical diseases, such as amoebic dysentery. But success did not evolve from work among the poor in tropical countries. As a Park Avenue physician he was sought out by the rich and famous. Salvador Dali's affliction caused by intestinal parasites, veered Kean into jungle medicine, which became a more everlasting tribute to his medical career than any other achievement.

Among the more notable triumphs attributed to Dr. Kean are the problems of birth defects. While many scientists directed their efforts to discovering genetic clues, Kean identified toxins in foods that pregnant mothers consume. Geneticists may have their day, but for the moment millions of pregnant women will be spared the tragedy of producing defective babies because of Kean's work in toxoplasmosis, parasitic infestation from food such as meat and contaminated water.
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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 1990
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