Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Search for Help Exposed Boy to Radiation Experiments

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Search for Help Exposed Boy to Radiation Experiments

Article excerpt

AN AUSTRALIAN mother came to the United States in the spring of 1946 in a last-ditch effort to find doctors who could save her son from cancer.

Instead, she unwittingly was caught up in a secret experiment being conducted by scientists of the Manhattan Project. They injected her 4-year-old son, Simeon Shaw, with three different radioactive materials: plutonium, cerium and yttrium.

Simeon died eight months after the injection.

His medical history is detailed in records recently released by the Department of Energy after a Freedom of Information request from The Albuquerque Tribune.

Simeon was one of 18 allegedly dying patients injected with plutonium by scientists working for the Manhattan Project, the effort that built the first atomic bomb.

Worried about the effect of radioactive material on nuclear workers, officials had hoped to discover how the body eliminated plutonium.

Simeon's father was a wool buyer from Dubbo, a farming town with a population now of 34,000 in western New South Wales, 260 miles northwest of Sydney. His mother, Freda, was a homemaker.

The 4-year-old's medical troubles began in January 1946, when he fell from a hammock and injured his knee.

"He complained of a hurting knee - put to bed - woke perfectly well ran and played," his medical records state.

A few days later, Freda noticed swelling on the inner part of the boy's knee. Two weeks later, Simeon awoke crying and complaining of pain in the knee.

Doctors initially diagnosed the child as having a fractured femur with a hematoma, but medical experts in Sydney diagnosed the child has having a highly malignant form of bone cancer. The parents decided to bring the child to the United States for more evaluation and treatment.

Through the Red Cross, an Army major referred the family to what was then called the University of California Hospital in San Francisco. Simeon and his mother were flown to the United States.

"Their traveling expenses, previous specialists, etc. …

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