Chapter 5 - Dr. Aslan s Background
Ana Aslan is a most persistent woman. This faculty was manifested to her parents rather early. Born in Bucharest in 1898 of wonderful middle-class parents, as she describes them, she soon let them know who was boss—although still loving them.
In her childhood the Wright brothers had just flown at Kitty Hawk and the news had traveled around the world. She knew with the yearning that only a child's dreams could impress on her unfolding mind that she wanted to be a flyer. Finally mama and papa were able to talk their young adventuress out of her mad scheme—or perhaps she "grew out of it" just as almost every child does who dreams of being an engineer, an airplane pilot, or nowadays an astronaut. But what if every child was talked out of his dreams by most practical parents? We would have no Einsteins, no Leonardoe, no Madame Curies, and no Ana Aslans.
Ana's parents could not talk her out of her second ambition: to be a doctor. This she knew she had to be, and when mama and papa said no again, she refused to eat. Imagine the consternation this caused! She said that unless they gave her permission to enroll as a medical student, she would never eat again. This meant, of course, she would die.
Put yourself in the loving parents place. What would you do? Now, put yourself in the beloved daughter's place who knows her parents love her and no doubt indulge her. She knows her parents very well. She knows that, loving more than most, they cannot let her starve to death; so she knows she will win. She does. After four days, the doting parents relent. They agree she can go to medical school.
But what if her parents had been adamant--what if they had said, "Let's see how far she will go." Perhaps she might have given in and then we would have had no Dr. Ana Aslan.
The fact that she had such loving parents in turn caused her to be loving, so that we now have the benefits of a brilliant, scientific, yet loving person. But it was not all her parents doing; the young bird, after flying from the parental nest, seeks exploration and life of its own.
After receiving her M.D. degree in 1924 from the University of Bucharest, Dr. Aslan was on the staff at several Bucharest hospitals, but for most of the next sixteen years she was Professor Dr. Danielopolu's assistant at the government clinic.
After World War 11 she was appointed director of the government's clinic in faraway Timisoara.
She had become not only Romania's first woman physician, but Romania s first cardiologist. She considered making cardiology her specialty, but gave it up because women doctors in Romania during the twenties and thirties had a rough time competing with men in any branch of medicine other than obstetrics. It was the same the world over—except in the Soviet Union, where women doctors were encouraged. Women's liberation was still just a glint in a few brave women s eyes. Astute observers may also note that the Soviet Union has flO Women in high political positions.
In 1947 King Michael was forced to abdicate and Romania became officially a part of the Eastern bloc which was allied with the Soviet Union. Romania, however, has been more independent than any other member of the bloc. (In fact, Romania has made a broad agreement with the United States which took effect January 1, 1975, in which economic and cultural ties were effected between the two countries.)
With the bloodless overthrow of the monarchy, Romania became a socialist state and Dr. C. I. Parhon
was elected its first president. Dr. Parhon was a noted physician and researcher, having made ‘many original contributions to medicine, especially in the field of endocrinology. He was particularly interested in the aging process, establishing the Parhon Institute of Endocrinology, and later the Institute of Geriatrics in Bucharest.
‘He had often said his most brilliant pupil at the University of Bucharest Medical School, where he taught for many years, was Ana Aslan.
In 1951 Dr. Parhon asked Ana Aslan to accept the ultimate honor--—that of director of the Institute of Geriatrics; a post which she was happy to accept.
The stage was set for Dr. Aslan s findings about new, startling actions of an old drug.