Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities


Charles Halsted
Davis, California, United States

An eleven-month-old Egyptian infant sat wailing on a cot, his abdomen pouched out and covered by spider-like purplish veins. His tiny arms and legs were like sticks, except for his swollen ankles. He was brought in by his mother who knew that his food and care would be free, that once she got past the hospital guards, her youngest of ten could become a research subject for the foreign white medical doctors.

We drew his blood, collected excretions, even managed to obtain a bone marrow sample. We provided iron, specific vitamins, and what was most needed, a powder called Klim that was rich in protein that he was most lacking.

When three weeks had passed, his abdomen flat and swelling all gone, he even managed a smile. All our tests were completed, his anemia cured, yet he was still the youngest of twelve, most likely to starve.

My research paper was published after I returned home a year later. I received a promotion.

Photo of Historic Cairo in Egpyt
Historic Cairo (Egypt). Photo by Véronique Dauge. 2007. Photo provided by UNESCO. Via Wikimedia

CHARLES HALSTED, the son of a physician, grew up in Dedham, MA, and Los Angeles, CA. He attended college at Stanford University, BA 1958, and medical school at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, MD 1962. After serving his military service at the US Naval Medical Research Unit #3 in Cairo, Egypt, he obtained specialty training in gastroenterology at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Following three years as a faculty member at Baltimore City Hospital, he obtained a position at the University of California Davis School of Medicine where he taught, conducted academic research, and practiced until his retirement as Professor Emeritus in 2015. His poetry education consisted of twelve consecutive online courses from Stanford Continuing Studies and six retreats with well-known poets in California, Oregon, and New Mexico. His poems have appeared in thirty-five different journals, one chapbook, Breaking Eighty, and two books, Extenuating Circumstances and On Razor-Thin Tires.

Highlighted Vignette Volume 13, Issue 3– Summer 2021

Winter 2021



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