By KTRK staff | February 4, 2021 at 6:46 AM EST – Updated February 4 at 6:46 AM
HOUSTON (KTRK) – A man who saved countless lives has lost his own to COVID-19.
Dr. Emil J. Freireich, who revolutionized the treatment of children with leukemia, sadly passed away from COVID-19 at the age of 93.
“My dad has always been my best friend and mentor,” said his daughter, Lindsay Freireich. She always knew him as dad. To others, he was truly the father of modern leukemia therapy.
He helped introduce the idea of treating childhood leukemia with combination chemotherapy.
She says her father was an amazing man, and she wants everyone to know how much he cared about trying to cure cancer.
“He really put his patients first. He believed everybody deserved another day,” Lindsay Freireich said.
Dr. Emil Freireich was a doctor at MD Anderson Cancer Center for 50 years, but even after retiring, he never lost his passion for helping and mentoring.
“Everyone loved him. He has a wing named after him, and he would just walk the halls with his walker and keep going because he said he had to cure all of cancer in his lifetime,” Lindsay Freireich said. “Out of all the oncologists in the world, he decided to use his own plasma and combine chemo therapies so that children’s leukemia went from 100-percent death to 97-percent life.”
She said when her father came to Houston, he invented the blood cell separator machine for patients, helping to get bad blood out and keep the good blood in.
His last weeks on earth were some of the hardest for the entire Freireich family, not being able to hold him or say goodbye.
“I think COVID-19 ravages the body, no matter who you are. It’s a horrible fight, and, when you are 93 years old, it’s even tougher,” Lindsay Freireich said
Dr. Emil Freireich’s life and accomplishments were extraordinary.
Lindsay Freireich is now looking for a publisher to help her get her dad’s story into the world. She hopes to keep his legacy alive.
“He’s a groundbreaking doctor and a hero for Houston and America,” she said.
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