Effects of chloroform and of strong chloric ether, as narcotic agents
Effects of Chloroform and of Strong Chloric Ether, as Narcotic Agents.
Warren, John C.
Item Number: 81086
Boston: W. D. Ticknor, 1849.
First edition of this landmark work, which was the first use of anasthesia in America. Octavo, original cloth, folding table. In near fine condition. Exceptionally rare, the last copy appearing at auction was 1965.
John Collins Warren was an American surgeon. In 1846 he gave permission to William T.G. Morton to provide ether anesthesia while Warren performed a minor surgical procedure. News of this first public demonstration of surgical anesthesia quickly circulated around the world. He was a founder of the New England Journal of Medicine and was the third president of the American Medical Association. He was the first Dean of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Warren was involved not once but twice in the earliest history of anesthesia. The first incident was a failed demonstration of nitrous-oxide by dentist Horace Wells on January 20, 1845. Although Warren did not believe that the anesthesia would work, he arranged for a demonstration at Massachusetts General Hospital. Warren presented Wells to his students but the patient who had been scheduled that morning, for an amputation, refused to be operated. Warren then asked his students if anybody needed a tooth extracted and one student agreed. Unfortunately the gas was not properly administered. The student suffered normal levels of pain, thus discrediting Wells and nitrous-oxide as an anesthetic. Not willing to accept that failure, on October 16, 1846, Warren again agreed to perform a public demonstration of a surgical operation, with anesthesia, on a patient, this time under ether anesthesia administered by Wells' colleague and competitor, William Thomas Green Morton. Warren was at this time 68 years of age. The operation lasted about ten minutes and the patient was seemingly unconscious for its duration. After Warren had finished, and the patient had regained consciousness, Warren asked the patient how he felt. Reportedly, the patient answered: "Feels as if my neck's been scratched". Warren then stated to his audience "Gentlemen, this is no Humbug". Although this proclaim is disputed. His personal journal for this day records, "Did an interesting operation at the Hospital this morning, while the patient was under the influence of Dr. Morton's preparation to prevent pain. The substance employed was sulphuric ether." Warren was quick to see the remarkable advantages offered by ether in surgical procedures, and he then championed the cause of etherization through his work and publications.