Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Did Coney Island save lives?

August 24, 2015

On the Boardwalk | Uncommongoods

The Brooklyn amusement park certainly saved the lives of roughly 6,500 babies, that’s for sure. Back in 1903, Dr. Martin A. Couney had developed an incubator to treat premature babies. At the time, hospitals had devoted little attention to these early births and therefore had no special equipment developed for them. Before Dr. Couney could convince hospitals to use his invention, he needed proof that it would work—and funding a study was expensive. Enter Coney Island. They set up an attraction that acted as a hospital ward with real doctors and nurses. One wall was made of glass so visitors could pay a dime and see the tiny infants. It may not have been the most dignified facility—outside, carnival barkers would pull people in with loads of sideshow-worthy hyperbole—but his research was essentially paid for and as many as 6,500 babies of the 8,000 treated survived as a result of his set up. He never charged the parents for treatment and eventually, any child who was prematurely born in New York City would be rushed to Coney Island to be placed on exhibit—Couney even treated his own daughter, who weighed less than three pounds at birth. In 1943, the exhibit closed down as more hospitals began to open their own preemie wards. Okay, Wonder Wheel, what have YOU done for the advancement of the medical community recently?

On the Boardwalk by Renee Leone | $145-$230

1 Comment

  • Reply dottie August 25, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    thank you for this important information. U never know what can be done unless U try.

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