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University of Tennessee Health Science Center Researcher
Russell Chesney Publishes Article to Demonstrate Cause of
Tiny Tim’s Illness in ‘A Christmas Carol’
Memphis, Tenn. (March 20, 2012) – Russell Chesney, MD, professor of Pediatrics and Physiology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) and Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, believes he knows what was ailing Tiny Tim, the iconic character from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Based on detailed descriptions of both the boy’s symptoms and the living conditions of 18th century London, Dr. Chesney hypothesizes that Tiny Tim suffered from a combination of rickets and tuberculosis (TB). His findings were published in the March 5 edition of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
Dr. Chesney noted during the time the novel was written, 60 percent of children in London had rickets and nearly 50 percent displayed signs of TB. He says this is due to crowded living conditions, poor diets, filth and low exposure to sunlight. The coal-burning city of London in addition to particles from an Indonesian volcanic eruption contributed to blackened skies for many years.
Both rickets and TB can be improved and indeed cured through increased exposure to Vitamin D, which can be obtained through exposure to sunlight and a balanced diet.
As the Ghost of Christmas Present showed Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim’s condition would be fatal without a different course for the boy. According to Dr. Chesney’s research, Scrooge could have ensured an improved diet, sunshine exposure and cod liver oil (a common supplement of the day high in Vitamin D) through improved generosity to Bob Cratchit and his family.
Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., treats more than 200,000 children each year in a 255-bed hospital that features state-of-the-art technology and family-friendly resources. Nationally recognized, Le Bonheur is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a Best Children’s Hospital. Serving as a primary teaching affiliate for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, the hospital trains more pediatricians than any other hospital in the state.
As the flagship statewide academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region, by pursuing an integrated program of education, research, clinical care, and public service. In 2011, UT Health Science Center celebrated its centennial: 100 years advancing the future of health care. Offering a broad range of postgraduate training opportunities, the main UTHSC campus is located in Memphis and includes six colleges: Allied Health Sciences, Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. The UTHSC campus in Knoxville includes a College of Medicine, College of Pharmacy, and an Allied Health Sciences unit. In addition, the UTHSC Chattanooga campus includes a College of Medicine and an Allied Health Sciences unit. Since its founding in 1911, UTHSC has educated and trained more than 53,000 health care professionals on campuses and in health care facilities across the state. For more information, visit www.uthsc.edu.
This study quantifies the economic impact of the UTHSC on the economy of the state of Tennessee for FY2010.
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