Distinguished medical care

Odd what you turn up when you’re doing research. I’ve been gathering some information for the seminary at work, and I ran across a name that tripped a memory switch. And thus I learned a little more about a chapter in my own family’s history – a Walker brush with fame. Or eminence, anyway.

When I was growing up, I often heard stories about the struggles my dad’s family endured. They suffered many shocks, both in finances and health. Dad lost a brother (born with a heart defect) and a sister (died of complications following appendix surgery). And my grandfather suffered all his life from a spinal injury he received as a young man. Through all these travails they were cared for by the family doctor, referred to with hushed respect as “Dr. Hanson.” Dr. Hanson, I was told, invented a specialized surgical tool in order to operate on Grandpa’s neck. Grandma saved a letter of condolence he wrote after the death of my aunt. Apparently he did a lot of his work for the Walkers with little payment, or at least with delayed payment. “He even,” they said, “discovered some kind of hormone.”

And it’s true. He did discover some kind of hormone. I found the record.

Dr. Adolph M. Hanson (I can’t find his biographical dates now, but as I recall he died in 1957) was the grandson of Pastor Østen Hanson, first pastor of my home parish. In 1923, he discovered the parathyroid hormone in his home laboratory in Faribault, Minn. This article tells about it.

One of these scientists was Adolph Hanson, a small-town doctor from Minnesota who conducted his experiments in a makeshift lab in the basement of his home. Hanson reported in 1923 that, using cattle parathyroid glands he had collected from a slaughterhouse, he had isolated the active compound from the parathyroids that can prevent the convulsions that occur when these glands are removed from dogs. The renowned Canadian biochemist James B. Collip independently isolated the same active extract in 1925…

My late great-aunt told me that one of her sisters had made a concerted effort to get Dr. Hanson as a husband, but he failed to succumb.

I may have even met him. I expect he would have attended Grandpa’s funeral. But I don’t remember him.

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