JANUARY 25, 1955
NEW YORK—When I was in Philadelphia last week I was poignantly reminded again of the March of Dimes drive for funds which is now being carried on all over the country. Down there I met a little boy named Jimmy Hartz. Jimmy was allowed out of the hospital for the day and was brought by his mother and father to meet me at the "Y." He is an appealing little chap with a sweet smile and a cheerful disposition and the never-dying hope that the day will come when he would walk and run again with his playmates.
In spite of all the feeling of optimism we now have because of the Salk polio vaccine, we must realize that we do not yet know how successful this vaccine is. 1,830,000 children took part in the field-testing of this vaccine. The tremendous task is still under way, with researchers at the University of Michigan studying the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Which of the children were hit by polio? Did the vaccine increase antibody levels? Did it reduce crippling after effects?
When these questions are answered, we will know how well the vaccine works.
Testing must go on and, if it is effective, more vaccine must be provided, and this will be expensive. More patients are now coming back for more treatments because today there is a better understanding of how to treat polio.
We are trying to do away with the crippling paralysis which is such a tragedy in the lives of children and adults who are hit by this dread disease. The fund target this year is $64,000,000.
The rolls of the various chapters of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis at the end of last year listed 70,000 patients still needing care and possible future assistance. How many new patients this year will bring cannot be estimated with any accuracy.
And even if the foundation is able to provide the vaccine for 9,000,000 children and as much more vaccine is available through commercial channels, we will still not have been able to reach every child and wipe out the danger of paralysis. In fact, it is doubtful if we can reach even half the number desired.
Polio is a very costly disease, and because of the length of time that it takes to treat a polio case families as well as the individual patient suffer.
The 1954 March of Dimes money was allocated in the following way: patient aid, 27.8 million dollars; through headquarters, 1.0 million; for vaccine, 7.1 millions; for gamma globulin, 9.0 millions; for scientific research 2.7 millions; for professional education, 3.1 millions; for respirator and treatment centers, 2.1 millions; for service assistance to chapters, 2.3 millions; for medical department services, 1.4 millions; for public information services, .4 million; for administration of chapters (3,100), 1.5 millions; for administration of headquarters, .6 million.
The total funds used in 1954 amounted to $59,000,000. With the added use of vaccine, the costs will go up this year, hence the effort to raise $64,000,000.
I feel sure the public will respond.