The PioneersThe MilitaryReferences

Crawford Long 1815-1878

In the USA, Crawford Long successfully carried out an operation with Ether, four years before its official discovery. On 30th March 1842, Dr Crawford Williamson Long excised one of two tumours from the neck of a Mr James Venable under sulphuric ether anaesthesia.

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’s successful attempt, so was not credited with its discovery. Crawford Long figures historically, as the unofficial discoverer of anaesthesia.179