World’s Oldest Allergist: Active at 101

in Food Allergy
Published: October 10, 2013

Saddam Hussein: once treated by
Dr. Frankland.

He once treated Saddam Hussein for allergies. He spent three and half years in a POW camp in the Second World War. Born in 1912, he’s been an allergist for nearly three quarters of a century and hasn’t stopped. His name? Bill Frankland, the world’s oldest allergist.

As reported in The Lancet, Frankland turned 101 earlier this year, and amazingly he is still actively contributing to the field of allergy. He is author or co-author of three academic papers to be published this year, and still spends some time consulting with patients by telephone.

Frankland made many significant contributions during his lifetime as an allergist. His research on pollen allergy led to the first official pollen counts being included with weather reports in the 1960s.

He published one of the first placebo-controlled studies on immunotherapy, helping to pave the way for its acceptance in the scientific community at a time when severe side effects, and even deaths, were causing allergists to lose faith in this type of treatment.

He even experimented on himself: he worked on insect-bite desensitization by allowing a certain insect to bite him every week, which resulted (to his surprise) in anaphylaxis by the eighth week. He worked with Sir Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin, right up until Fleming’s death in 1955.

As for treating Saddam, it occurred when the ruler of Iraq was an ally to Britain and the west. After receiving a call from the Iraqi embassy, he went to treat Hussein in Baghdad for asthma due to mold allergy. According to Frankland, Saddam did not actually have asthma, nor did he have any allergy.

Next year, the VII World Asthma, Allergy & COPD Forum will host an honorary lecture in Frankland’s name. The allergist, who is currently in good health, hopes to attend at 102 years of age.

See original article from The Lancet here.