It all began over 65 years ago with a simple idea. What started as a father’s desire to protect his daughter from a fatal allergy became a mission that, to this day, is changing the world, one life at a time.
In 1953, while 14-year-old Linda Collins was playing with her cousins, she cut herself, deep enough to need stitches. In the emergency room, the physician took the normal course of action and administered a tetanus antitoxin. Linda suffered a near-fatal allergic reaction and went into a coma. Her father, Dr. Marion Collins, knew of her allergy but was out of town when the incident happened.
Thankfully, Linda survived. Afterwards, Dr. Collins became determined to find a solution that would protect her in an emergency by making her allergy known to medical personnel. When their daughter traveled, Dr. Collins and his wife Chrissie attached a paper note to one of Linda’s ornamental bracelets as a simple makeshift medical ID. The note would explain to any emergency personnel that she was allergic to tetanus antitoxin, aspirin and sulfa.
When Linda went off to college in 1956, Dr. Collins and Chrissie were worried about her safety. That’s when Dr. Collins’ idea for a more durable solution was born. Working with a jeweler in San Francisco, he designed the first ever MedicAlert ID bracelet. He chose an emblem with the staff of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing, and engraved Linda’s allergies on the bracelet.
When others saw Linda’s bracelet, they expressed interest in having one like it to inform emergency personnel about their own allergies or conditions. Realizing this idea could help many people, Dr. Collins and Chrissie knew they had to embark on a mission to save and protect lives.
“I believe I can save more lives with MedicAlert than I ever can with with my scalpel.” – Dr. Marion Collins, MedicAlert founder
Soon after, they launched the MedicAlert Foundation to make their life-saving bracelet available to many more people living with allergies and other chronic medical conditions. From the beginning, they established MedicAlert as a nonprofit organization, recognizing that providing vital services to improve emergency outcomes is a public service.
Dr. Collins’ innovation, and the organization he and his wife founded, took hold and grew because it met an essential human need for safety and peace of mind. Linda’s original medical ID bracelet, now in the Smithsonian Institution, communicated vital medical information – so that she could live a full life, be protected, and give her parents peace of mind while she was away from home. For over 65 years, MedicAlert Foundation’s lifesaving products and services have continued to do the same for millions of others around the world.
“We’re not here to make money – we’re here to save lives.” – Dr. Marion Collins, MedicAlert founder