Guyton Global Health Initiative
The Guyton Global Health Initiative is dedicated in honor of the foundation's namesake, Dr. Arthur Clifton Guyton (1919-2003). The Initiative is intended to serve the the health and well-being of children and youth around the world, with a focus on combatting deadly childhood epidemic diseases, especially poliomyelitis.
Dr. Arthur Guyton was born on September 8, 1919 in Oxford, Mississippi. He followed his father's path to medical school, and then trained to become a cardiovascular surgeon. But when he was in his final year of residency, the young Dr. Guyton contracted polio. At his adult age, the disease was especially devastating because Dr. Guyton had to give up his passion of becoming a surgeon due to the paralysis the infection causes. But instead of letting this terrible disease consume him, Dr. Guyton demonstrated an indomintable will to conquer polio: he used his year of recuperation in Georgia to develop the first joystick-controlled motorized wheechair among many other devices to help disabled patients such as himself. He was able to dominate his condition and become perhaps the most famous physiologist of the modern age. During his prominent career, Dr. Guyton rose to become the Dean of the University of Mississippi School of Medicine. Many physicians will recall that their medical school physiology textbook was written by Dr. Guyton: The Textbook of Medical Physiology. His 2005 biography published in The Physiologist noted Dr. Guyton's early struggle with polio and how he used his incredible determination to overcome that terrible affliction for the betterment of humankind:
"He had a special ability to inspire people through his indomitable spirit... his courage in the face of adversity humbled us. He would not succumb to the crippling effects of polio. It is very unlikely that a repairman ever crossed his doorstep, except perhaps for a social visit. He and his children not only built their home, but also repaired each and every malfunctioning appliance and home device no matter the difficulty or the physical challenge. He built a hoist to lower himself into the "hole" beneath their house to repair the furnace and septic lines when calling a repairman seemed to be the only option to those who did not know him well. On trips to meetings, he walked long distances across airport terminals when using a wheelchair would have been much easier. His struggle to rise from his chair and walk to the podium for a lecture was moving, but the audience was always more impressed when he forcefully articulated his brilliant concepts."
Dr. Guyton passed away on April 3, 2003 in a car accident. Although he was taken prematurely, he lived a long and productive life of more than 83 years. Through so many contributions in a lifetime of service, Dr. Guyton has left the world a much better place. The Arthur Guyton Foundation is named in his honor to demonstrate that disease and other impediments to health and well-being cannot subdue the relentless human spirit that lies in each and every one of us.