JFK, diagnosed with Addison’s disease, departs England 70 years ago #OnThisDay #OTD (Oct 11 1947)

Video: 'American Experience The Kennedys 1' (Oct. 1947, at 51:38)

(Saturday, October 11, 1947) — U.S. Rep. John F. Kennedy, 30, cut short his seven-week European tour today and sailed for home from Southampton, England, after being diagnosed with Addison’s disease, a rare disorder of the adrenal glands, which regulate metabolism and the body’s response to stress and inflammation.

On his way home to the United States, aboard the ocean liner RMS Queen Mary, Kennedy became so sick that upon arrival a priest was brought aboard to give him last rites before he was carried off the ship on a stretcher.

Kennedy, who had been given less than a year to live, recovered but was treated with desoxycorticosterone acetate (DOCA), an early, weak synthetic adrenal hormone that was implanted in pellet form under the skin of his thigh every 3 months.

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