Dr. Andy Margileth shows no sign of slowing down. The longtime pediatrician turned 101 years old on Saturday and he doesn’t have plans to retire.
“It’s a feel-good job. It’s not even a job. It’s just fun,” he said. “What is more important than helping other people?”
Margileth has defied the actuaries. He’s one of a dozen century-old doctors in the United States who are still practicing medicine.
The World War II Navy veteran, who had an award named after him for his work in military pediatrics, has practiced long enough to know what it was like before vaccines protected people. And long before, another virus was especially lethal for children.
“Polio was so bad. The death rate, the kids who were getting the iron lung, it was awful,” he said.
Back then, Margileth was on the cutting edge of vaccine development and cures for childhood disease.
“We gave the kid one dose, and it was literally almost like the leukemia was gone. That is called gratification,” he said.
He attributes his longevity to those medical breakthroughs and a healthier lifestyle — he lifts weights every day and tries to swim once or twice a week.
“Well, I never wanted to quit, that’s my problem,” he said of his work at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.
It’s that lifetime of service to his country and his patients that sustains him.
“If you had to put a headline on this thing, I guess you would say, ‘helping people, that’s what it’s all about,'” he said.