On This Day

Albert Stevens

Human Medical Subject Albert Stevens

Profession: Human Medical Subject

United States of America

Biography: Stevens, known as patient CAL-1, was the unwitting subject of an unethical human radiation experiment conducted by Dr. Joseph Gilbert Hamilton in America as part of the Manhattan Project in May 1945. He is famous for surviving the highest known accumulated radiation dose anyone has ever received.

Stevens was selected for the experiment because it was thought that he had stomach cancer. However, four days after being injected with the plutonium isotopes, without his knowledge or informed consent, it was discovered that he only had a stomach ulcer.

Stevens was injected with 131 kBq (3.55 µCi) of plutonium. The plutonium, although undergoing radioactive decay, remained in his body for the remainder of his life.

Over the remaining 20 years of his life, he accumulated an effective radiation dose of 6400 rem. The current annual permitted dose for a radiation worker in the United States is 5 rem. Steven's annual dose was approximately 60 times this amount.

Stevens case was only bought to light by reporter Eileen Welsome article "The Plutonium Experiment" published in 1993 (Pultizer Prize 1994).

Birthplace: , USA

Died: January 9, 1966
Cause of Death: Heart disease

Historical Events

  • 1945-05-14 Physician Joseph G. Hamilton injects misdiagnosed cancer patient Albert Stevens (CAL-1) with 131 kBq (3.55 µCi) of plutonium without his knowledge. Stevens lives another 20 years, surviving the highest known accumulated radiation dose in any human

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