Dahl was also the dual inventor of the Wade-Dahl-Till shunt, or the WDT, a medical device used to relieve pressure inside the skull after traumatic brain injury. Dahl wasn't exactly a doctor, but his interest in helping people with brain problems came about in 1960, when his son, Theo, was hit by a cab and suffered a fractured skull and swelling of the brain. The treatment is to insert a shunt into the victim's head to relieve the pressure, but, back then, the technology they used frequently got clogged up by brain stuff, which is exactly as pleasant an experience as it sounds. Dahl figured that he could come up with a better way, so he contacted a neurosurgeon named Kenneth Till and a toymaker named Stanley Wade to figure it out. Toss in a surly computer genius, and you've got yourself a crime-fighting team.
Roald Dahl/Kenneth Till/Stanley Wade
Or a crack team of bandits planning a heist on the human brain.
After working together for three years, Dahl, Till, and Wade came up with their patented device that not only resisted clogging better than the current technology, but was also cheaper and easier to make. Dahl's son recovered before the device was completed, so he didn't personally benefit from it, but the invention went on to revolutionize the field. Dahl never saw a cent from it -- not because he was screwed out of the patent, as is so often the case with these articles -- but because he offered it to the world for free. And so shines a good deed in a weary world.