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Saving one life while working to save all our lives

February 18, 2021

Monday, December 9, 1985: As members of IPPNW’s executive committee met with the international press before the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo, a journalist suddenly slumped over in his chair and began convulsing—the victim of cardiac arrest.  An international team of IPPNW physicians rushed to his aid as the press conference dissolved into a battle for the life of the stricken camera operator. The story became a parable for IPPNW’s work. When the press conference resumed Dr. Bernard Lown, who died this week at the age of 99, had this to say:

We have just witnessed what doctoring is about. When faced with a dire emergency of sudden cardiac arrest, doctors do not inquire whether the patient was a good person or a criminal. We do not delay treatment to learn the politics or character of the victim. We respond not as ideologues, nor as Russians nor Americans, but as doctors. The only thing that matters is saving a human life. We work with colleagues, whatever their political persuasion, whether capitalist or Communist. This very culture permeates IPPNW. The world is threatened with sudden nuclear death. We work with doctors whatever their political convictions to save our endangered home. You have just witnessed IPPNW in action.

Dr. Eugueni Chazov administers CPR to a Soviet journalist in Oslo as Dr. Bernard Lown looks on at upper left.

Drs. Lown and Chazov respond emotionally after the event.

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