December 28

1955–1970: Saul Krugman, MD, conducted despicable medical experiments at Willowbrook

Dr. Krugman deliberately infected mentally disabled children who were confined at Willowbrook School (NY) with hepatitis B. The school housed 6,000 children in abominable conditions. In one experiment, children were fed excrement containing live hepatitis B virus. In another experiment children were injected with live hepatitis virus in an effort to deliberately infect the children with hepatitis in order to learn about different viruses that caused hepatitis and to find a preventive vaccine. Participation in the study was a condition for admission to institution. This infamous experiment was funded by the US Army and approved by the NYS Department of Mental Hygiene. Dr. Krugman won several awards from his medical peers who called his work, “groundbreaking” without any thought about the abuse and suffering of the children he infected. An expose by Geraldo Rivera in 1972, led to a NYS consent decree that forbids the incarceration of mentally retarded children in large institutions. That same year, Dr. Krugman was elected president of the American Pediatric Society. A documentary about the experiments, Willowbrook won best short film category at the Boston Film Festival, 2012.


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