World Anesthesia Day Quotes

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James Young Simpson studied medicine in Edinburgh, Scotland, graduating in 1832. By the mid-1840s, Simpson had climbed the ranks to become a professor of midwifery in Edinburgh, relieving the pain of childbirth with ether, like his American colleagues. But Simpson wasn’t satisfied. He wanted a more potent agent, one that was pleasant to inhale, worked quicker, and didn’t cause vomiting upon awakening. He settled on chloroform, a combination of hydrogen, carbon, and chlorine. On November 4, 1847, Simpson invited two of his assistants, James Duncan and George Keith, and some of his friends, including a Ms. Petrie, to a dinner party. When the dinner was over, he asked his guests to sniff a variety of volatile gases, including chloroform. Duncan and Keith immediately lost consciousness, falling under the table. Ms. Petrie also lost consciousness, but not before declaring, “I’m an angel! I’m an angel! Oh, I’m an angel!” The next day, without animal studies, clinical trials, or federal approval, Simpson administered chloroform to a woman during a particularly painful delivery. “I placed her under the influence of chloroform,” recalled Simpson, “by moistening half a teaspoon of the liquid onto a pocket handkerchief [and placing it] over her mouth and nostrils. The child was expelled in about twenty minutes. When she awoke, [the mother] observed to me that she had enjoyed a very comfortable sleep.” The parents were so elated that they named their daughter Anesthesia. On November 10, 1847, Simpson told a group of colleagues what he had done. Ten days later, he described his experience in a medical journal, claiming that chloroform was more potent and easier to administer than nitrous oxide, and quicker to induce unconsciousness and less flammable than ether. Now the entire medical world knew about it.
Paul A. Offit (You Bet Your Life: From Blood Transfusions to Mass Vaccination, the Long and Risky History of Medical Innovation)
Darwin is associated, in the popular imagination, with bloody zero-sum competition, with Tennyson’s “nature, red in tooth and claw”—with the motto “survival of the fittest.” But this wasn’t actually his phrase. It was coined by a philosopher and sociologist named Herbert Spencer and his fellow “social Darwinists,” who were promoters of white and upper-class supremacy. For Darwin, says Keltner, “survival of the kindest” would have been a better moniker. Darwin was a gentle and melancholic soul, a doting husband and adoring father of ten, deeply in love with nature from earliest childhood. His father had wanted him to be a doctor, but when at age sixteen he witnessed his first surgery, performed in those days without anesthesia, he was so horrified that for the rest of his life he couldn’t stand the sight of blood. He retreated to the woodlands and studied beetles instead. Later, he described his encounter with a Brazilian forest as “a chaos of delight, out of which a world of future & more quiet pleasure will arise.
Susan Cain (Bittersweet (Oprah's Book Club): How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole)