Table of Contents | Previous Page | Next Page

Good Morning Doctor! - Chapter 25

The Letter

It has occurred to me that perhaps some of my readers might be interested in the content of the letter written by Dr. Burbank to which I have referred in the preceding chapter. For that reason I am repeating its text:

Dr. Rohlf:

As I was present when the first surgical operation under the influence of ether was performed you have requested my recollections of it.

About the middle of October, 1846, Dr. Warren says; Dr. W. T. G. Morton called on him stating that he had the means of producing insensibility during the extraction of teeth, and he would like to have Dr. Warren test its power in a surgical operation.
In a few days after this (Nov. 26--I am not certain) a young man having a tumor on the left side of the neck, just below the left jaw, which had probably existed since birth, was chosen for the experiment at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
I remember Dr. Morton was late in arriving which he excused by saying he had made some alterations in his inhaling apparatus.
He (the patient) inhaled the ether from a tube, connected with a glass globe. In four or five minutes he seemed to bed asleep. The operation was begun with no indications of pain; but as the operation proceeded he moved his limbs and cried out; but after the operation he said he suffered no pain but knew of the operation.
At the time no one but Dr. Morton knew what the patient inhaled.
I remember that when Dr. Warren had completed his operation he stepped forward saying, "Gentlemen, this is no humbug."
The gentlemen M.D.s present as I recall (were) Drs. J. Mason Warren, his father (the operator) John Collins Warren, Parkman H. I. Bigelow, Dr. Charles Heywood (house surgeon), Townsend George Hayward, Dr. A. L. Pierson of Salem and other surgeons of note whose names I cannot recall after over 53 years' lapse of time.
Oscar Burbank
Waverly, Iowa
November 30, 1899
  Version: World Wide Web Edition Copyright 1995 by Richard Rathe
  Created: October 1, 1995   Modified: July 5, 1999

Table of Contents | Previous Page | Next Page