Bruno Hammerschlag Ebel, originally from Witkowitz (Vitkovice, Moravia), was born May 5, 1904 into a traditional Ashkenazim family. The third son of Adolf Hammerschlag and Eugene Ebel, he moved to Praha where he obtained his medical diploma from the German University of Praha in 1936. There he studied with the famous obstetrician Herman Knaus (the creator of the rhythm method, the only contraception modality still accepted by the Roman Catholic Church and many others) at the German University. He immigrated to Panama City, Panama, arriving in February of 1939.
Dr. Hammerschlag became the first physician to perform surgery in the entire Darien region, the largest of the Panama provinces, and in 1941 he converted a rudimentary "health center" in the middle of the jungle into a real hospital. Located on the frontier adjacent to Colombia, Darien was almost totally populated by Indians and African-American descendants brought to Panama between 1914-1918 for the construction of the Panama Canal.
Ninety-five percent of Darien territory was tropical jungle. Between 1941 and 1945 Dr. Hammerschlag provided medical care with love and dedication to thousands of ill aborigines in an region covering thousands of square kilometers, with no penetrating roads, walking for hours in the jungle or going through very large rivers in very small canoes, for such purposes as to help a parturient mother to give birth or to perform an appendectomy to a critically ill Indian child, with no more help than a patient's relative holding a lamp.
Dr. Hammerschlag created a nursing school in Darien, teaching women aborigines. His graduating students became professional nurses and, having been so well trained by him, many were able obtain certification by the national boards of nursing, working until retirement in the principal modern hospitals of Panama City.
In 1945, Dr. Hammerschlag moved into Panama City, where he became a very respectable and famous clinician, with patients traveling from the far latitudes of the country to see him. He was loved and respected by his patients, who were cared for and loved as well by him.
Dr. Hammerschlag never retired. He sufered a stroke at the end of a working night in 1970 and eventually died April 25, 1974 of a massive heart attack. He was beloved by all.
He married three times. Nine years after the death of his second wife, he married Virginia Icaza Ruiz, 73, originally from Panama, who remained his beloved wife until his death. He had five children: Susi, who was born in Praha and became a pediatrician until her retirement as Senior Chief Pediatrician at Miami Children's Hospital, in Miami, FL, USA, and who now lives with in Panama City; Stella, a very succesful lawyer in Panama City; Bruno Jr., a U.S.-trained pulmonary and critical care physician who has a very succesful practice in the principal private hospital in Panama; Hans, who is Executive Vice-President and General Manager of one of the principal food companies of the country; and, Jenny Rose, Vice-President of Human Resources for one of the principal international Banks in Panama.
We hereby proudly present our father who taught us to be proud of our origins and our family; to become a united family; to study, learn, work and live with love, honor and dedication; to pray with humility and faith; to raise our families by his example and to recognize and treat all other people as human beings deserving of our respect and love.
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