The PioneersThe MilitaryReferences

The Age of Discovery

William E Clarke

In January 1842 in America, a medical student at the Berkshire Medical College in Massachusetts, William E Clarke who was an ardent fan of ether frolics, he returned to his hometown of Rochester, New York, during a break in the lecture schedule.

Clarke discovered that the sister of one of his classmates, a Miss Hobbie, needed a tooth extracted. He applied ether via a towel to a patient whilst a dentist Elijah Pope, painlessly removed one of her teeth. Because they never recorded it at the time, they missed an opportunity for everlasting fame. Historians only mention it briefly. 174                             

However, Professor E. M. Moore, Clarke's preceptor, told him that the entire incident could be explained as the hysterical reaction of women to pain. At Moore's suggestion, Clarke discontinued his experimentation. 175 If had not listened to the explanation of his Professor, maybe Clarke would have pursued this even further and been accredited with its discovery

Crawford Long 1815-1878

Crawford Long was Born in Danielsville, Georgia on November 1, 1815, He came from a cotton farming well to do family and his first surgical act was to nearly amputate his sisters fingers with an axe (accidently) and then to put those bleeding fingers back into place, most children of his age would have panicked and the result would have been the loss of his sisters fingers, his quick action and follow up by his mother saved the fingers.

He graduated from medical school at the University of Pennsylvania in 1839. Like many of those credited with discovering anaesthesia, Long was exposed to the recreational use of nitrous oxide and ether. After training in New York, he returned to Georgia and began medical practice in rural Jefferson.
Crawford Long successfully carried out an operation with Ether, four years before its official discovery. On 30th March 1842, Dr Crawford Williamson Long excised from an acquaintance, James Venable, one of two tumours from his neck.

Venable was one of many people at the time who had an liking to ether parties, so he was used to sniffing the vapours, this meant that the thought of the
"anaesthetic" via this substance was not feared as much as it could have been had he not tried it first. He had rendered his patient insensible via an ether soaked towel. Some medical students and several other onlookers watched the operation. At first, Dr Long’s patient could scarcely believe what had happened. Only when he was presented with the half-inch-diameter cyst did Mr Venable realise that a tumour had been removed.

His bill for two dollars itemised the cost of the ether as well as the tumour excision. On 6th June, Dr Long excised Mr Venable’s second tumour.
Other pain-free operations on different patients under ether anaesthesia followed.

The procedures included the removal by Dr Long of a toe, a finger and another cyst. He did not however publish his results until after Morton successful attempt, so was not credited with its discovery. Crawford Long figures historically, as the unofficial discoverer of anaesthesia. 174


Quote 68

"Why do we not give the credit to Davy ... Hickman ... Wells ... or to Long, who frequently practiced ether anaesthesia? In science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea first occurs ... Morton convinced the world, the credit is his." And, "The rival claims or priority (for the first use of anaesthesia) no longer interest us." 176



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