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Tale Of The Pediatrician Snatched To Treat The Kennedy Baby

The Kennedy family plot in Holyhood Cemetery in Brookline, on Nov. 23, 1963. The headstone marks grave of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, third child of the slain president, who died in August at less than 2 days old. (Frank C. Curtin/AP)

The Kennedy family plot in Holyhood Cemetery in Brookline, on Nov. 23, 1963. The headstone marks grave of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, third child of the slain president, who died at less than 2 days old, with respiratory distress. (Frank C. Curtin/AP)

Fifty years ago this week, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, the president and first lady’s baby who was born five-and-a-half weeks premature, died while doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital tried to save him. Last week, The New York Times took a look back and recounted the medical drama with rich detail.

But apparently, according to the son of one of the doctors involved in baby Kennedy’s care (and a very distant, non-blood relative of mine), not all of the details were completely right.

The small bit of misinformation involves the moment when Dr. Samuel Levine, a pioneering New York pediatrician and professor at Cornell University Medical College, was snatched from Manhattan and flown to Boston to help treat the ailing infant, according to the doctor’s son, Ted Levine. Here’s what the Times wrote:

Pierre Salinger, the White House press secretary, conveyed a message from Mrs. Kennedy’s sister, Lee Radziwill, who urged the president to send for Dr. Samuel Z. Levine, a prominent Manhattan pediatrician who had cared for her own premature baby. Secret Service agents located him strolling in Central Park and whisked the startled physician to Boston.

Not true, says Ted, the 86-year-old son of Samuel, who was an expert in the field of pediatric nutrition. Continue reading