Stars Magazine November 1965
The Death Medal David Mccallum Must Wear
He must always have it around his neck. . . . Whether he is working, traveling,
relaxing at home or swimming. It must be with him at all times. many people have
noted it and wondered about it. . . . What is it that David Mccallum wears--a
sentimental trinket, a religious medal, a good luck piece, an identification tag.
It is an identification tag of a sort. . . a very, very special one. In fact,it
is so special and important that David's life could well depend on it. . .if
its message were ignored, it could bring death. It is a medical identification
tag and the engraving on the plain round metal disk reads "Use No Penicillin."
David has been wearing this tag for about a year, since the time when, it is
said, he fell through a glass shower door and cut himself. Doctors who treated
him then gave him penicillin. . . and he developed such an adverse reaction
to it that it was deemed advisable that he wear the medical ID tag.
This was necessary, it was felt, in case he should ever be involved in an accident
that rendered him unconscious where a penicillin injection might be given him
while he was unable to stop it. For most people, of course, penicillin, in circumstances
where it is required, is a beneficial, a life-saving drug. But there are those
for whom it has just the opposite effect.
These reactions to the drug can be varied. . . and unpredictable. They can range
from a mild skin rash or soreness at the place where the injection was given,
to a bad rash and swelling, to an illness with fever that could affect the heart
and kidneys to-in some cases-death.
The disconcerting part of these adverse reactions to penicillin is that one
can't be sure when they will occur. For instance, one could be given penicillin
as a child and have no reaction to it; as an adult, however, a reaction may
develop. Or one may have a mild reaction to it-a minor rash- one time and the
next time it is given have a much more virulent reaction.
It is not known exactly what kind of reaction David Mccallum had when he was
given penicillin. As with all aspects of his private life, this is something
David does not care to comment upon. However, it is not too likely that he would
wear the medical ID tag if his reaction to the drug were not a serious one.
Assuming that this is so, it could literally mean death to David if he did not
wear the warning tab always around his neck.