The story of the impostor doctor Martin Coney, who saved thousands of babies from imminent death

Dr. Martin Coney was considered by some to be a madman, and by others to be an unprincipled, greedy monster. They shouted accusations of violating medical ethics in his face, but this stooped, ungainly man only smiled sadly and went back to his little patients. In fact, Martin Coney could not violate the ethics accepted by medical workers, because he was an impostor and had never studied to be a doctor. But this did not prevent him from saving more lives than many venerable professors of medicine.

The story of the impostor doctor Martin Coney, who saved thousands of babies from imminent death

In 1903, strange posters appeared on the streets of Brooklyn, USA. In them, everyone was invited to look at ... premature babies, for just 25 cents. The attraction was a room in which incubators with babies born prematurely were located.

The room with the incubators was like a museum or an exhibition of technical achievements

Posters and articles in newspapers invited and intrigued onlookers with quite shocking proposals. Even for the United States, where they adored cirques of freaks and considered people with a different skin color inferior, their texts were too provocative:

This is how the popular weekly World Fair told about the children's exhibition, and this is not the most unusual description.

The story of the impostor doctor Martin Coney, who saved thousands of babies from imminent death

An article about Martin Coney in one of the Chicago newspapers

The owner of the attraction was a German Jew, Martin Kouni, who called himself a doctor. He claimed to be a student of the French doctor Pierre-Constant Boudin, who created the world's first incubators for premature babies. In fact, no medical education at There was no Coney, and of course he didn't know Buden.

The first incubators for premature babies appeared in Paris in 1880. Kouni purchased several such devices in France and brought them to the exhibition of technical achievements in Berlin in 1896. But this medical equipment did not arouse any interest among the Germans, as, indeed, among residents of other European countries.

The story of the impostor doctor Martin Coney, who saved thousands of babies from imminent death

Having traveled the length and breadth of Europe with his incubators, Martin Coney realized that success should be sought not from pragmatic Europeans, but from Americans who are greedy for spectacles. This time, the "doctor" did everything and he settled in Brooklyn, where his show ran from 1903 to 1940.

The story of the impostor doctor Martin Coney, who saved thousands of babies from imminent death

Martin Coney Pavilion at the Chicago Annual Fair

Maintaining the life of one child per day cost $ 15, which in terms of modern money is about $ 400 (about 25,500 rubles). It turned out that people who came to watch the struggle for the lives of tiny patients financed their lives.

In the first half of the XX century, premature babies were not considered full-fledged children and they were simply left to die without medical care after birth. Martin Coney considered this inhumane and his non-standard decision for that time, which was joked about in medical circles, was the only chance of salvation for thousands of babies.One of the women who gave birth to a child prematurely recalled:

The baby of this woman was lucky, because her husband heard about the attraction of Dr. Kouni and gave him a hopeless child from the point of view of official medicine.

The story of the impostor doctor Martin Coney, who saved thousands of babies from imminent death

The staff selected by Kouni was impeccably professional

Martin Cowney incubators brought from Paris, were a real miracle of technology. They were made of glass and steel, and the heat was supplied to them from a steam boiler. Inside, devices were installed to control humidity and temperature, and the baby himself was reliably protected from the still hostile world for him by transparent doors.

The story of the impostor doctor Martin Coney, who saved thousands of babies from imminent death

All employees of the "doctor-incubator" attraction were carefully selected. The applicants were required, first of all, high responsibility, as well as neatness. The nurses were obliged to keep the room perfectly clean, which was very difficult to do with an impressive flow of visitors. Cowney dismissed employees caught smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages without talking.

To dress premature babies, the nurses who helped Kouni had to look for things for dolls in toy stores and even sew something themselves. The strange doctor with a strong German accent did not receive any support from his colleagues. On the contrary, everyone accused him of inhumanity, mockery of the dying and greed.

The story of the impostor doctor Martin Coney, who saved thousands of babies from imminent death

Modern incubator for premature babies

The impostor doctor ignored the critics and continued to do good. During the years of his show, 6,500 children were saved. In the early 40s, the Martin Coney attraction closed, as positive changes took place in medicine and children born prematurely began to be saved. Incubators similar to those used by the impostor doctor from Prussians began to appear in maternity hospitals and hospitals in the United States and Europe.

Martin Coney lived a wonderful long life filled with caring for little people, and died in the 1950s at the age of 80. One of the greatest humanists In the XX century, he made absolutely nothing during the years of work and left this world absolutely poor.

It is difficult to overestimate what the impostor doctor Kouni did for modern medicine — thanks to this person, premature babies were no longer considered biomaterials and recognized as people who have the right to life and need professional help.

Keywords: Attraction | Brooklyn | Doctor | Incubator | Baby | Help | Resuscitation | Show

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