Tuesday October 2, 2012 the WOD is Dr. Marie Valdés-Dapena (1921- Oct
1, 2012) Pathologist, pioneering researcher on SIDS, and mother of 11
children. She lived an extraordinary life as a pioneer in the study of
sudden infant death syndrome; a leading pediatric pathologist who was
among the first to recognize what is now known as child abuse; and a
working mother of 11 children in an era when few women worked and far
fewer were doctors. In fact, she was performing an autopsy at nine
months pregnant. She was watching a clock - timing her contractions,
determined to complete the job before delivering her own baby.
grandmother of sudden infant death research, Dapena, whom everyone
refers to as "Molly," developed her expertise in pediatric pathology as a
consultant to the Philadelphia medical examiner before relocating to
Florida. Dr. Valdés-Dapena was best known to the public as a pathologist
in the biggest maternal infanticide case in recorded history - Marie
Noe's murder of eight babies in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.
In the 1960s, a local couple became the most famous bereaved parents in
America, as their infants died one after another. One of the first child
autopsies Molly Dapena ever did for the city was that of Constance Noe,
baby number five, in 1958. She went on to assist or observe on all the
others through number ten -- which she believes is the most babies ever
lost by one mother.
A Philadelphia Magazine investigation revealed the deaths were indeed tragic, but perhaps not unexplainable.
Dr.Dapena moved back to the Philadelphia area to be closer to her
children when she was 77. She died Sunday at the Rose Tree Place
retirement community near Media. She had struggled with advanced
dementia for many years.