Continuing with honoring the exceptional women who made great strides within the medical world, we feature Antonia Novello this week. Born in Puerto Rico in 1944, she had a difficult medical condition that was hard to diagnose and hard to correct. Luckily, after two successful surgeries; one at the age of 18 and the other at the age of 20, she was completely healed. It was then that Novello realized she wanted to be a doctor.
Novello completed her original M.D. program in Puerto Rico. She then moved to the United States and studied at the University of Michigan. It was here that she fell in love with nephrology, the study of the kidneys. Unfortunately, her passion stemmed from a traumatic death in the family from kidney failure.
Her accomplishments at Michigan did not go unnoticed. She was appointed Intern of the Year, the first woman to have achieved that honor, but she didn’t stop there. She continued learning and gained valuable experience in medical realm of pediatrics. She carried this experience over when she became the deputy director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. It was here she began important work on pediatric AIDS cases.
During this time she alerted people that the amount of incidences of AIDS in women and in children had been escalating. It was tough news to break because issues like AIDS, at the time, were not openly discussed.
In the early nineties, public figures finally began seeing this deep passion within Antonia Novello for fixing the health-related problems amongst the public. It was at this time George H. W. Bush appointed her as the Attorney General of the United States. She was the first woman and first Hispanic to hold the title.
While she was the Surgeon General, Novello went after big tobacco companies. She condemned them for their misleading advertisements. She actively fought these big corporations and did her best to protect the children of America. To this day, her work helps kids see the danger in using tobacco products.
Antonia Novello fought hard for the public, doing her best to keep them healthy and safe. She brought to light tough issues that had previously been kept behind doors. She wasn’t just an exceptional doctor, she was an exceptional human being who merely wanted everyone to be armed with today’s top notch medical information.
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