“Dear Cousin Tore, thank you that you exist. Without you, my grandchild would not be alive.” – Dr. Tore Curstedt, Curosurf drug inventor, who helped treat 4 million prematurely born babies, recalls a story of meeting a now grown up baby he saved decades ago:
The first people who were treated with the drug that you co-invented, Curosurf, you saved them when they were born prematurely, are now adults, and lead healthy lives. And I know that some of them write to you and come to meet you. How does it feel to save somebody’s life and then to meet them later on even though you haven’t met them before?
– How it feels? It’s a real reward. That is the reward, to have saved a person’s life and you meet them again. That is the reward. That is the more important thing. And I can tell you, when we had a meeting in Belfast in 2005, one of those surfactant meetings, I met the first baby treated outside Sweden. And he stood there and thanked us for his life. “Without you, I would not have been alive,” he said. And he had started studying at the University at that time. So that was a feeling you can’t explain. And I also had, this summer, it has, I had been to Lisbon for this European patent award, and when I came home, there had been something written in the papers, and then I had an email to my hospital, to my address, email address, “I was the first.” And I didn’t know what it meant. I thought, is it a spam? Or what is it? And I opened it and man said, “I was the first who got your surfactant in 1983.” “And I am now working with IT. And I feel very well.” And I wrote to him and we have decided to see each other in August. I will meet with him and his parents to discuss this, about his prematurity. This way, he was born in week 27. His weight was less than 800 grams.
– A similar story to the first ever baby that you treated.
– Yes. – The first babies were very sick. They were very low weight, at perhaps 700 to 900 grams. We were not allowed to treat bigger babies or those who were more mature —
– [Anton] Because you did it during the clinical trial.
– During clinical trials. So we could treat this very, very sick baby. So it will be very interesting to meet him and his parents. We discussed, his parents would like to come to us also just to discuss with what happened during the days in 1983. But here also, it’s another thing also to tell a story about that. When I visited Lisbon and came back in June I had a letter in my letter box, and it said, “Dear Cousin Tore.” That’s from a cousin of me. “Dear Cousin Tore, Thank you that you exist. I got my seventh grandchild two years ago. She was born in week 28, her weight was about 800 grams, and she survived thanks to you.” Now she’s a playful and happy little girl for two years. She had no idea that I worked with surfactant. She knew that I worked at Karolinska, but nothing about the research. But she also said, “Without you, “my grandchild would not be alive.” And that is very important, I think, for all this research, to see [success] from the basic research and also that you have saved the lives of the babies.
– This is how basic science transforms into the clinical science and saves specific lives of specific people and you have seen that.
– Yes, I have seen it and that is very important. That is the most important thing.