THE OPSONIC CONTENT OF THE BLOOD OF INFANTS

SAMUEL AMBERG
1907 Journal of the American Medical Association  
To my esteemed friend Dr. Trudeau's objection to cremation on religious and ethical grounds I make no reply, except to honor him for his high sentiments. To Judge Ommen I feel particularly grateful for his elaborate reply. Concerning his legal objection I refer him to Dr. Janeway's letter, and what I said above about postmortem examination of the body as a whole and the chemical analysis of stomach and intestines of all bodies before cremation. In reply to the pessimistic sentiments
more » ... r example, that this world is growing colder and colder-I must take issue with my good friend. Those of us who are interested in practical philanthropy will bear out my statement when I say that, on the contrary, there never has been so much practical good done to our less fortunate fellow men as in our time. More noble men and women devote their lives to the amelioration of suffering now than at any other time in the history of mankind. When the Hon. Alfred E. Ommen enters on ethical aspects and speaks of sentiment and affection I feel that my own power of expression will not be sufficient to convince him. I simply wonder what he means when he speaks of cremation as something unnatural, and why he considers it an entire obliteration. How can a sentiment which is purely imaginary be of real benefit to mankind? The only uplifting influence that could come from a grave would be from the thought that there was something left there to be loved. One look at the real contents of a grave would remove this sentiment forever. It is the memory of the loved one, the influence of his noble actions, the results of his goodness that remain to guide, help and uplift us. The grave merely symbolizes this through our early associations and religious training. Could not ashes and an urn symbolize this as well as decay and corruption and a mound of earth ? Has not our immortal Longfellow, poet and seer, told us : "Dust thou art, to dust returnest, was not spoken of the soul." The following beautiful words from the Rev. Thomas R. Slicer on the subject will, I know, answer Judge Ommen's objections to cremation on ethical and sentimental grounds much better than I, with only a medical training, could possibly do: I approve of cremation as a means of returning by the quickest possible process the chemical constituents of the body to the earth, to which that body is nearly related. The decay of the grave is combustion. It seems rational to accomplish in three hours what is badly done by the slower processes in thirty years. Nothing seems to me a more direct affront to Nature than hermetically to seal up a human body and then place it in the ground, as though one defied Nature to have access to that which belongs to it. I think no one can witness the incineration of a human body without feeling that a clean flame has sincerely and quickly disposed of the only part of the body which can be consumed, leaving the remainder to be returned to the earth as it was. I do not see how there can be any religious objection to cremation, except from the standpoint of those who believe in the resurrection of the physical body; but as all intelligent students now who believe in immortality rather believe that you can not bury a man and that eternal life is a condition and not a place, this objection from the religious standpoint must soon disappear. Feeling, as I do, that all the real relations are spiritual, and that everything else is incidental to the communion of one human soul with another, I shall be glad to see the time when society shall more generally approve of disposing of the house of life by means which shall remove its decaying structure quickly and with the least danger to the survivors. The fundamental proposition in my thinking is that man has a body, but man is a spirit. I have always felt that the seabird that flew back and forth over the flame in which Shelley's body was consumed on the shores of the Mediterranean might very well typify a liberated soul which stayed its flight awhile to watch its cage consume. In 1901 Moro1 pointed out that the bactericidal power of the blood serum of breast-fed infants markedly exceeds that of artificially fed ones. It was thought of interest to determine the opsonic content of the blood of infants raised under different conditions; particularly as the recent researches of Wright, his pupils and other investigators here and abroad seem to show that these substances which prepare the bacteria for phagocytosis play an important r\l =o^\l ein the defense of the organism against certain forms of bacterial invasion. The method employed to determine the opsonic content of the blood was that described by Simon and Lamar,2 and I adhered the more closely to this method, as I intended to compare my results with those obtained by Simon in adults. Furthermore, the method of Simon recommended itself for another reason. The work can be carried out without assistance and without continued comparison with normal individuals. PROCEDURE. Briefly, the procedure is as follows : The serum is diluted with a 1 per cent, saline solution in a proportion of 1 to 20 by means of a pipette used in the counting of white corpuscles. Then twice nine divisions of the pipettee are put in a small glass tube. In preparing a dilution of 1 to 40 nine divisions of the dilution 1 to 20 are mixed with nine divisions of the saline solution. The tubes are then charged with bacteria directly from an agar tube. Lastly, the equivalent of (i divisions of an emulsion of blood corpuscles containing the leucocytes is added from a specially calibrated pipette. In this manner the total amount of fluid contained in each tube corresponds to 24 divisions of the pipette. The blood corpuscle emulsion is obtained in the usual way. The blood is taken up in a 0.1 per cent, solution of ammonium oxalate in 1 per cent, solution to prevent coagulation. The blood corpuscles are sedimented and washed three times with 1 per cent, saline solution with the help of the centrifuge. Finally, the supernatant fluid is pipetted off as completely as possible and the sediment is stirred up. The charged tubes are kept in the incubator for one-half hour. Smears are made and stained with alkaline aqueous méthylène blue, so that the red blood corpuscles remain unstained. Then the percentage of leucocytes which have taken up bacteria is determined. In most cases 50 cells were counted and this proved sufficient, since the counts of the first 25 cells agreed From the children's department of the Johns Hopkins University.
doi:10.1001/jama.1907.25220300032001h fatcat:tnq7qmfqunbmve57zu7few5fra