This Day in History – December 27th, 1845

CrawfordLongDr. Crawford Williamson Long was an American surgeon and pharmacist best known for his first use of inhaled diethyl ether as an anesthetic. Although his work was unknown outside a small circle of colleagues for several years, he is now recognized as the first physician to have administered ether anesthesia for surgery.

He received his MD degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 1839. After observing the same physiological effects with diethyl ether (“ether”) that Humphry Davy had described for nitrous oxide in 1800, Long used ether for the first time on March 30th, 1842 to remove a tumor from the neck of a patient, James M. Venable, in Jefferson, Georgia. Long subsequently removed a second tumor from Venable and used ether as an anesthetic in amputations and childbirth. The results of these trials were published in 1849 in The Southern Medical and Surgical Journal. An original copy of this publication is held in the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

In Jefferson, Georgia on December 27th, 1845 Long was the first to use ether anesthetic for a childbirth, and oddly enough decades later, he died of a stroke on June 16th, 1878 shortly after helping to deliver a baby.

Flourish 3

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