Donald Henderson, who helped rid the world of one of worst diseases of all time, has passed away at the age of 87.
Donald Henderson changed the world for the better, and that’s an understatement. He saved untold numbers of lives by developing the smallpox vaccine that eradicated the disease, and so it’s only fitting that he lived to the ripe old age of 87 before finally passing away — he allowed so many others to do the same.
Henderson has been called a “giant” in the field of public health thanks to the work he did in the 1960s and 70s. It was complications from a broken hip that caused his death.
Smallpox was responsible for killing hundreds of millions of people just in the last century, and was one of the world’s deadliest diseases before Henderson figured out a way to cure it. It was a brutal illness, causing tremendous pain and awful lesions all over the face and body.
Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980.
The World Health Organization led a campaign the rid the world of the scourge that was smallpox in 1966, and tapped Henderson to lead the effort. They made the right choice, despite the fact that few thought he would succeed.