Retired Harlem doctor recalls Barbara Bush's influence

Dr. Margaret Heagarty, 83, spoke glowingly about former First Lady Barbara Bush. They met in 1988 when Bush visited the pediatric AIDS unit at Harlem hospital at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Heagarty was the director of pediatrics.

She said the first lady's visit led to money from the federal government when President George Bush took office. Heagarty said soon the government started spending big money on AIDS research in the U.S. and in Africa.

Heagarty said that Bush arrived at the clinic without any fanfare and no publicity. She also met with children at an AIDS clinic in Washington, D.C.

Heagarty said she believes Bush's visit to Harlem inspired Princess Diana to visit six months later.

She said she is eternally grateful to President Bush and the first lady for being champions of AIDS patients at a time when many were turning their backs on the crisis. Heagarty said the first lady had class and that class suggested understanding and caring.