During the first two decades of this century, a great
number of babies under one year of age wasted away
in hospitals and children's institutions and died from
unknown causes. In some institutions it was customary
to enter the condition of all seriously sick infants as
"hopeless" on admission cards.
Among the doctors who were confronted with infant
mortality daily was Dr. Fritz Talbot of the Children's
Clinic in Dusseldorf. Dr. Talbot had uncommon success
in dealing with sick children. For many years, as he
made his rounds, he would be followed from ward to
ward by groups of interns seeking new ways of
handling children's diseases.
One such intern was Dr. Joseph Brennermann, who
told this story.
"Many times we would come across a child for whom
everything had failed. For some reason the child was
hopelessly wasting away. When this would happen, Dr.
Talbot would take the child's chart and scrawl some
indecipherable prescription. In most of the cases, the
magic formula took effect and the child began to
prosper. My curiosity was aroused and I wondered if
the famous doctor had developed some new type of
"One day, after rounds, I returned to the ward and
tried to decipher Dr. Talbot's scrawl. I had no luck,
and so I turned to the head nurse and asked her what
the prescription was.
"'Old Anna,' she said. Then she pointed to a
grandmotherly woman seated in a large rocker with a
baby on her lap. The nurse continued: 'Whenever we
have a baby for whom everything we could do had
failed, we turn the child over to Old Anna. She has
more success than all the doctors and nurses in this
Do Whatever He Tells You