Queen Mary University of London and the Embassy of Hungary in London mark the 204th birthday of Dr Ignác Semmelweis, the Hungarian obstetrician responsible for identifying the cause of puerperal fever.
To mark the 204th anniversary of the birth of Hungarian obstetrician, Dr Ignác Semmelweis, the Hungarian Government gifted bronze statues of the Doctor to select universities across the world. Queen Mary University of London received one of these statues, the first ever Semmelweis statue in a UK medical school.
To mark the occasion, Queen Mary University of London and the Embassy of Hungary in London held a joint event on the Whitechapel Campus to unveil the statue and celebrate the life of Dr Ignác Semmelweis. Known as the ‘Saviour of Mothers’, the 19th century Hungarian obstetrician was responsible for identifying the cause of puerperal fever, pioneering antiseptic procedures and the subsequent significant reduction of mortality at maternity wards.
The celebrations included an overview of the Semmelweis's life by László Rosivall, Professor of Pathophysiology at Semmelweis University Hungary, the work by Hungarian academics in the UK by Márta Korbonits, Professor of Endocrinology at Queen Mary University of London and a reading by Academy Award winning actor Sir Mark Rylance from his recent play 'Dr Semmelweis'. Headlining at Bristol's Old Vic the play explores the struggle of the Hungarian physician to convince the medical establishment about the value of his findings.
Hailed as the ‘Saviour of Mothers’, Dr Ignác Semmelweis was a 19th century Hungarian physician widely recognised as one of the most influential doctors of all time. He identified incidence as a cause of puerperal fever (also known as "childbed fever"), performed experimental animal studies to prove his theories and suggested introduction of antiseptic measures to obstetrical clinics including careful washing of hands with a chlorine solution. Mocked and rejected at the time of his life, these measures were later adopted following discovery of the germ theory saving thousands of lives.
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