Albert Stevens was an American Painter who is known to have had the highest amount of radiation in his body ever recorded. He survived an extremely high amount of radiation for several years. He was extraordinary and resilient. His story is a profound violation of human rights and reminds us of the sobering consequences when ethics are disregarded.
In 1945, Albert Stevens sought medical attention at a hospital facility in UC San Francisco due to an ulcer. However, his life took a dramatic turn when doctors made a grave misdiagnosis. Believing that he had a terminal cancer, they predicted he will die within short time. Little did Albert know that this erroneous assumption would set in motion a series of events that would write his name in history.
In a tragic chain of events spurred by the mistaken belief in Albert’s imminent demise, officials made a clandestine decision, selecting him as a guinea pig for a covert experiment, the Manhattan Project. The project had an aim to unravel the mysteries surrounding the ability of the human body to respond to Plutonium. Albert was subjected to multiple doses of Plutonium without his consent.
Albert Stevens Resistance to Plutonium
The researchers were shocked that the subject’s body did not give in easily. Contrary to their dire predictions, he did not succumb to the lethal effects of the experiment as quickly as anticipated. However, instead of reevaluating their course of action and prioritizing his well-being, they chose to persist in using him for further experimentation.
Year after year, Albert endured a high annual radiation dose of approximately 300 rems. To put this into perspective, the current accepted industrial threshold for radiation exposure is a mere 5 rems. It is a stringent standard put in place to protect workers from the harmful effects of radiation. Albert’s exposure far exceeded this limit, highlighting the magnitude of his radiation exposure. No individual should be subjected to radiation levels surpassing the recognized safety guidelines.
Albert Stevens Death
Albert died at the age of 79. Overall, his body carried an astonishing burden of approximately, 6400 rems. This far exceeding what any human should ever bear. Albert’s body’s extraordinary response to the immense level of radiation it endured can only be described as a physiological miracle. His ability to endure and continue living in the face of such adversity is shocking.
As we reflect on Albert’s story, we cannot ignore the profound ethical transgressions that marked his journey. The misdiagnosis, the non-consensual experimentation, and the blatant disregard for his rights and well-being serve as stark reminders of the dark days that have stained the history of research and bioethics. Albert’s experiences are a sombre reminder of the importance of upholding ethical standards and ensuring that the pursuit of scientific knowledge is guided by compassion, respect, and informed consent. His story urges us to confront the past and learn from the mistakes made, so that we may build a future where research is conducted with unwavering adherence to ethical principles.