Sunday, July 29, 2018

Up-date: Toronto Hospital for Sick Children 'Another black mark on Sick Kids'...Dr. Frederick Tisdall: Hospital for Sick Children bows to public pressure: Suspends controversial web page on nutritional researcher who was lead researcher for federal government sponsered gruesome, unspeakable, unethical secret experiments performed on aboriginal children in Northern communities, pending revision.

PUBLISHERS NOTE: This terse note appears on the Sick Kids Tisdall  web page: "This page is currently being revised. The Frederick Tisdall webpage and other references on our website are being revised to ensure an accurate reflection of Dr. Tisdall’s contributions to children’s health along with the recognition of the unethical research involving Indigenous communities and residential schools in the 1940’s. SickKids has been working with Indigenous partners to be a culturally safe organization for Indigenous children and families. Guided by principles of Truth and Reconciliation, we are committed to acknowledging harmful aspects of our history with Indigenous peoples, including Dr. Tisdall’s work."


On July 26, I posted a commentary by George Brown  College Prof. Peggy McKenzie headed "Sick Kids website must reflect immoral research on Indigenous children." Prof. McKenzie had taught her ethics research students about Tisdall's horrific research experiments  on aboriginal students which, in a glaring omission, had not been included in a post  glorifying Tisdall on The Hospital for Sick Children's   web site at the time I wrote the post. Her students, to their credit, asked Sick Kids to take down the misleading post until the site could be revised to reflect the the full picture of Tisdall's research. In a response to the student's letter, the Hospital replied:  "While we have been aware of this history since the outset of recent efforts, our delay in communicating about it has been due to our commitment to not only acknowledge truths, but to also ensure acknowledgments are accompanied by tangible actions on the path of reconciliation. We are confident that our ongoing work will alleviate the concerns voiced by your students."

  I editorialized on Prof. McKenzie's commentary as follows on July 26.

"The hospital's failure to take down it's web-site (As of 11.15 AM on Thursday July 26, 2018),  until this glaring, ugly, omission is addressed sends out a terrible, uncaring message: a  troubling message from the Hospital that brought us Dr. Charles Smith and Motherisk, Lisa Shore, Sanchia Bulgin, and all too many more black spots.  This Leopard clearly has not changed its spots. Bravo to Prof. MacKenzie and her conscientious students. Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.


For the record, Prof McKenzie's Toronto Star commentary read as follows:   "A Department of National Health and Welfare nurse supervises the taking of saliva samples from boys at the Indian School in Port Alberni, B.C. as part of a decade-long series of nutritional experiments conducted on Indigenous children in the 1940s by the Canadian government. (Library and Archives Canada. In late May, students in the Introduction to Research class at George Brown College studied research ethics — their importance when conducting research studies, and how all academic research in Canada must follow the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans or TCPS2. They also studied egregious cases when ethics — and humanity — went missing. To illustrate why there is a specific section on the TCPS2 website dealing with "Research Involving Aboriginal Peoples in Canada," we discussed the explosive research findings by food historian, Dr. Ian Mosby in 2013. Mosby uncovered nutrition experiments from 1942-1952 that spread from involuntary test subjects on reserves in northern Manitoba and James Bay to vulnerable children warehoused in six residential schools across Canada. Indigenous children were deliberately starved, milk rations were halved, essential vitamins and dental services were withheld. The government-run experiment spanned the entire country and involved at least 1,300 Indigenous people, most of them children. Tisdall was the lead researcher for the secretive nutritional experiments conducted in the northern communities. Dozens of media outlets interviewed Mosby in 2013 and Canadians learned about one of the worst breaches of medical ethics in Canadian history. Imagine my students' surprise when they took my lecture a step further and googled Tisdall. They found the glowing Sick Kids' webpage dedicated to the role he played in nutrition science. No mention is made of his well-known experiments on an unsuspecting and beleaguered population. A followup article by three physicians in the journal Pediatrics and Child Health in 2014 further argued Mosby's assertion that Tisdall should have known his actions were unconscionable in 1942, and definitely by 1947 with the publication of the Nuremberg Code that covers medical research. The code resulted from the Nuremberg trial for 23 defendants — 20 of them physicians — who had used prisoners from Nazi concentration camps for medical experimentation. The article, "Canada's shameful history of nutrition research on residential schoolchildren: The need for strong medical ethics in Aboriginal health research," compared the research on the Indigenous community to the "medical atrocities performed in the name of science," by the Nazi physicians put on trial. With the consent of my students, I emailed a letter to Sick Kids stating the students' concerns and asked why the webpage did not reflect the five-year-old research by Mosby. A reply by Janice Nicholson, Director of Communications  and  Digital Media, stated that the hospital was aware of Mosby's research: "While we have been aware of this history since the outset of recent efforts, our delay in communicating about it has been due to our commitment to not only acknowledge truths, but to also ensure acknowledgments are accompanied by tangible actions on the path of reconciliation. We are confident that our ongoing work will alleviate the concerns voiced by your students." While the class agreed that words are meaningless without actions, they were confused about the time frame. Why not take down the webpage until Sick Kids figured out the path of reconciliation? Or add a paragraph acknowledging the suffering Tisdall foisted on a vulnerable population and state their intention going forward as a research hospital is to promote healing and then enumerate what that means? In the meantime, the webpage still stands as a testimony to Tisdall's great achievements but none of his failures to humanity."


Here's how the Hospital for Sick Chikdren's post on Tisdall read before it was yanked from the site called: "Hospital; About SickKids; History and Milestones"..."Frederick Tisdall."..."When a young doctor named Frederick Tisdall first came to The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in 1921 no one could have imagined what accomplishments would follow. In late 1929, Dr. Tisdall came into prominence when he became director of the Nutritional Research Laboratories. He was described as 'dynamic', a 'wheeler-dealer', a 'cleaver business man', and a 'publicity genius'. The most pressing problem facing the hard working staff of the laboratory was preparing good nutritious food for babies. At that time, infants were being fed cereal and biscuits consisting mostly of wheat, oats or corn meal. All the bran and germ had to be removed because whole grain cereal was difficult for a baby to digest. Dr. Tisdall, along with Dr. Theodore Drake, made the production of a perfect infant food their main goal. They intensified and expanded their experiments with animals, and tested foods on groups of children in the hospital and in orphanages. All the hard work paid off when the doctors discovered how to make a mixture that contained all the essential vitamins and minerals that babies needed, yet wouldn't cause undue constipation or diarrhea. They added ingredients such as honey to make it more palatable and baked it into a biscuit, which they arranged to have manufactured by a prominent biscuit company under the name "Sunwheat." But they weren't done yet! They realized that tiny babies can't eat biscuits. A cereal was needed that could be mixed with milk and spoon fed. So they produced a cereal that had many of the same ingredients as the biscuits. For three months, babies and older children in the hospital were fed the mixture. They liked it, they didn't become constipated, and their health improved. But the cereal had one serious drawback -- it required lengthy cooking. At that time, the practice of drying milk by letting it drip on a red-hot revolving drum and immediately scraping it off was coming into use. The researchers tried this technique with their cooked cereal and it worked. The mixture came off the drum as a bone-dry, flaky powder. Now they had a baby food that filled their requirements and would keep indefinitely. They called it "Pablum". Tisdall recognized he had the perfect product and was determined to find the best way to market it to benefit children everywhere. This is where his keen business sense came into play. He got in touch with the executives of the Mead Johnson Company in Chicago and arranged to meet with them. After much discussion, an arrangement was worked out. In return for the permission to manufacture Pablum, SickKids would receive a royalty on every box sold. It turned out to be an excellent deal for many years. Pablum largely financed further research for the hospital. During his time at SickKids, Tisdall was the author of The Home Care of the Infant and Child and co-author with Alan Brown of the textbook Common Procedures in the Practice of Paediatrics . He also published more than 125 scientific articles, most on the subject of nutrition. He was chairman of committees on nutrition for the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Red Cross, a member of the Canadian Council on Nutrition, the Food and Nutrition Board, National Research Council, Washington, and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada. One day after assisting in the laying of the cornerstone of the new hospital on University Avenue, Frederick Tisdall died suddenly at the age of 56. At the time of his death, Tisdall was associate professor of Paediatrics, University of Toronto, a physician at SickKids, and director of Research Laboratories, Department of Paediatrics, at SickKids.


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: