Google Friday celebrated the 131st birth anniversary of British Haematologist Lucy Wills with a doodle. Wills’ analysis of prenatal anaemia changed the world of preventive prenatal care for women.
Wills was born on this day in 1888 in Sutton Coldfield near Birmingham and was one of the lucky few to have attended a boarding school at The Cheltenham Ladies’ College, which trained woman students in Science in Mathematics. In 1911, Wills earned her first honours in Botany and Geology at the Cambridge University’s Newnham College, followed by the London School of Medicine for Women, the first school in Britain to train female doctors.
Wills travelled to India to research a form of life-threatening anaemia which afflicted pregnant woman in Bombay. She initially suspected the cause to be poor nutrition but later, in an experiment, discovered that when the laboratory monkey was fed a certain British breakfast spread made of yeast extract its health condition improved. This came to be known as the “Wills Factor”.
Research on the experiment later proved that the factor was folic acid which is since being recommended to pregnant woman everywhere.
Lucy Wills died on 26 April 1964. In her obituaries, she was described as a joyous and enthusiastic teacher, an indomitable walker and skier, an enthusiastic traveller, a lover of the beauty of nature, mirthful and entertaining. She devoted much of her life to travelling the world and working to ensure the health of mothers-to-be.