Lu­cille Horn, not ex­pected to sur­vive in­fancy, dies at 96

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - FRANK ELT­MAN

Lu­cille Con­lin Horn weighed barely two pounds when she was born, a per­ilous size for any in­fant, es­pe­cially in 1920. Doc­tors told her par­ents to hold off on a fu­neral for her twin sis­ter who had died at birth, ex­pect­ing she too would soon be gone.

But her life spanned nearly a cen­tury af­ter her par­ents put their faith in a sideshow doc­tor at Coney Is­land who put ba­bies on dis­play in in­cu­ba­tors to fund his re­search to keep them alive.

The Brook­lyn-born wo­man who later moved to Long Is­land, New York, died Feb. 11 at age 96, ac­cord­ing to the Hunger­ford & Clark Fu­neral Home. She had been suf­fer­ing from Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

Horn was among thou­sands of pre­ma­ture ba­bies who were treated in the early 20th cen­tury by Dr. Martin Couney. He was a pi­o­neer in the use of in­cu­ba­tors who sought ac­cep­tance for the tech­nol­ogy by show­ing it off on car­ni­val mid­ways, f airs and other public venues. He never ac­cepted money from their par­ents, but in­stead charged oglers ad­mis­sion to see the tiny in­fants strug­gling for life.

Horn and her twin were born pre­ma­turely in Brook­lyn. She told The As­so­ci­ated Press in a 2015 in­ter­view that when her sis­ter died, doc­tors told her fa­ther to hold off on a fu­ner- al be­cause tiny Lu­cille, would not sur­vive the day.

“He said, ‘Well that’s im­pos­si­ble, she’s alive now. We have to do some­thing for her,’” Horn said. “My fa­ther wrapped me in a towel and took me in a cab to the in­cu­ba­tor; I went to Dr. Couney. I stayed with him quite a few days; al­most five months.”

Couney, who died in 1950 and is viewed to­day as a pi­o­neer in neona­tol­ogy, es­ti­mated that he suc­cess­fully kept alive about 7,500 of the 8,500 chil­dren that were taken to his “baby farm” at the Coney Is­land board­walk. They re­mained there un­til the early 1940s, when the in­cu­ba­tors be­came widely used in hospi­tals.

He also put inf ants on dis­play at the World’s Fair and other public venues dur­ing his ca­reer. There is no es­ti­mate on how many still are alive to­day.

Horn worked as a cross­ing guard and then as a le­gal sec­re­tary for her hus­band. She is sur­vived by three daugh­ters and two sons. She said she met Couney when she was about 19 and thanked him for what he had done. “I’ve had a good life,” she said in 2015. Af­ter a fu­neral, she was buried at the Ceme­tery of the Ev­er­greens in Brook­lyn, next to her twin sis­ter.

FRANK ELT­MAN, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Lu­cille Horn was ex­pected to die shortly af­ter she was born in 1920, but her life spanned nearly a cen­tury af­ter her par­ents put their faith in a sideshow doc­tor at Coney Is­land who put ba­bies on dis­play in in­cu­ba­tors to fund his re­search to keep them alive.

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