Crawford Long

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Crawford Long

Crawford Williamson Long (Danielsville, November 1, 1815 – Athens, June 16, 1878) was an American physician and pharmacist who was recognized as one of the first to use ethyl ether as an anesthetic. .

Crawford_Long’s Biography

Crawford Long studied at the University of Georgia, where he was a member of the Demosteniana Literary Society. There he shared the room with Alexander Stephens, who would be vice president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.

He graduated as a doctor at the University of Pennsylvania in 1839.

Discovery of anesthesia

On October 13, 1804, in Kyoto (Japan), the doctor HANAOKA Seishū (October 23, 1760 – November 21, 1835) used general anesthesia – using the drug datura (estramonio) – to perform a mastectomy in a patient of 60 years with breast cancer. The national policy of isolation carried out by the Tokugawa shogunate prevented these advances from being known in the West.

After having observed the same physiological effects with the ethyl ether that Humphry Davy had described for nitrous oxide in 1800, Long used ether for the first time on March 30, 1842 to remove a tumor from a patient’s neck, James M. Venable, in Jefferson (Georgia). On June 6, 1842, Long extracted a second tumor from the same patient. He later used ether as an anesthetic in several amputations and deliveries. The results of these applications were published only in 1848 in the newspaper The Southern Medical and Surgical Journal.

However, he did not introduce anesthesia in a general way in his practice, nor did he write or lecture on the subject before dentists Horace Wells and William Morton made their demonstrations. The historians of medicine opt for the latter as true developers of anesthesia.

On September 30, 1846, the American dentist William Morton (1819-1868) extracted a tooth painlessly using ether (which Morton renamed letheon and tried to patent). After reading in the newspaper a favorable report about this event, the Bostonian surgeon Henry Jacob Bigelow organized a demonstration on October 16, 1846 in the operating room of the General Hospital of Massachusetts (in Boston). In this demonstration, Dr. John Collins Warren extirpated a tumor from the neck of one Edward Gilbert Abbott. The operating room was popularly renamed the Ether Dome (‘ether dome’) and was preserved as a monument to this historic event. After the demonstration, Morton tried to hide the identity of the substance that Abbott had inhaled, mentioning it as letheon, but it was soon discovered that it was ether.

Morton unfairly received the honor of having performed the first anesthesia administration. In 1854, Long asked William Crosby Dawson, a senator from the United States, to present his claims before Congress.

Crawford W. Long was a cousin of the dentist, gambler and gunman Doc Holliday (1851-1887).

Long died in Athens (Georgia), in 1878.

In 1931, on the outskirts of Atlanta, the Crawford Long hospital was named in his honor. He kept his name for 78 years. It was renamed Emory University Hospital in 2009. In 1957, the Crawford W. Long Museum was established in Jefferson, Georgia. In the United States Capitol stands a statue of Crawford Long, as one of the two characters chosen to represent the state of Georgia.

More Facts about Crawford Long

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