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Celebrating Fort Bayard's 147th Birthday with Ping Pong Balls and Donkey's Milk

Photo and article by Charlie McKee

Photo: (clockwise from center) Dr. Twana Sparks; Terry Young, visiting from Texas for his 50th Silver High School reunion; Martha Blacklock, the author's advisor and proofreader; Donna Vaughn Young, visiting from Texas and childhood resident of Fort Bayard; and Nona Lindley, a patient of Dr. Sparks.

Twana L. Sparks, MD, was on hand at Fort Bayard's 147th Birthday Celebration on Saturday, August 24, to sign her newly published book, Ping Pong Balls & Donkey's Milk: A History of Tuberculosis in Fort Bayard, New Mexico.

As other visitors to the Fort took the guided walking tour around the grounds, Sparks explained to her audience the astonishing medical procedures used by the early 20th century doctors at Fort Bayard in their attempts to treat tuberculosis. These included inserting ping pong balls in the chest cavities of patients to collapse an infected lung, the removal of ribs, and other drastic measures to combat the highly infectious disease.

Proceeds from the sale of Sparks's book at Fort Bayard's Birthday Celebration will benefit the Fort Bayard Historical Preservation Society.


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