COPENHAGEN — Many mentally handicapped Danes, including children, were lobotomised between 1947 and 1983, and many died from the operation, a historian behind a soon-to-be-published book on the topic told Danish media Thursday.
“Doctors did not count on curing them completely, but wanted to pacify them, perhaps to better their condition,” Jesper Vaczy Kragh told the Christian daily Kristelig Dagbladet.
“The results of such operations generally were not good, and some 7.6 percent did not survive,” said the medical historian, behind a book on lobotomies set to be published in October.
“What happened with people with mental handicaps is worse than what happened with psychiatric patients,” he said, referring to many operations performed on children as young as six years of age, even though their brains were not yet completely developed.
Official figures show that between 1947 and 1983, when conducting lobotomies was outlawed in Denmark, around 4,500 Danes had the operation.
But it was previously unknown that many mentally handicapped people were subjected to the procedure.
Kragh estimates more than 300 mentally handicapped people were operated on during that period at Copenhagen’s University Hospital and at a municipal hospital in Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city.
The president of LEV, the national association of handicapped people, Sytter Kristensen, said she was deeply shocked by the revelation.
“Those were highly educated people (doctors) who were taking advantage of defenseless people without being sure of having the slightest positive result,” she told Kristelig Dagbladet.
Health Minister Bertel Haarder said he thought it was good to shine the spotlight on the cases.
“The explanation is that, for a long time, mentally handicapped people were not regarded as equal. Their lives were considered to be without value,” he said.
Privacy rights may become next victim of killer pandemic
Digital surveillance and smartphone technology may prove helpful in containing the coronavirus pandemic -- but some activists fear this could mean lasting harm to privacy and digital rights.
From China to Singapore to Israel, governments have ordered electronic monitoring of their citizens' movements in an effort to limit contagion. In Europe and the United States, technology firms have begun sharing "anonymized" smartphone data to better track the outbreak.
These moves have prompted soul-searching by privacy activists who acknowledge the need for technology to save lives while fretting over the potential for abuse.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards honors staffer who died from COVID-19
Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) offered a moving tribute to a member of his staff who died from COVID-19.
"On behalf of the first lady and my entire administration, it is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of our dear April, who succumbed to complications from COVID-19," he posted on Twitter, along with photos.
"She brightened everyone’s day with her smile and was an inspiration to everyone who met her," he continued.
"She lived her life to the fullest and improved the lives of countless Louisianans with disabilities as a dedicated staff member in the Governor's Office of Disability Affairs. April worked hard as an advocate for herself & other members of the disability community," he wrote.
Washington state nurses share shocking stories from their war against coronavirus
by Ken Armstrong and Vianna Davila
Nurses at one hospital in southeastern Washington state have alleged that, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they were ordered by supervisors to use one protective mask per shift, potentially exposing themselves to the novel coronavirus.
At another hospital, just east of Seattle, nurses had to use face shields indefinitely.
At a third hospital, on Washington’s border with Oregon, nurses reported that respirators were expired. The hospital responded, the nurses said, by ordering staff to remove stickers showing that the respirators might be as much as three years out of date.