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Dr. Ephraim McDowell: Frontier Surgeon Chautauqua

November 9, 2017

Dr. Ephraim McDowell, Frontier Surgeon - 1771-1830

On Christmas Day 1809, 1,000 miles away from the nearest hospital and 35 years before the discovery of anesthesia, Dr. Ephraim McDowell removed a 22-pound ovarian tumor from the abdomen of a 46-year-old woman. It was the world's first ovariotomy, and it eventually brought McDowell worldwide acclaim as the father of abdominal surgery. The patient, Jane Todd Crawford, had ridden three days on horseback to reach McDowell's home in Danville, Kentucky, to have the operation. The medical authorities of the day were convinced that opening the abdomen meant certain death, so McDowell was far from sure that the surgery would succeed. He told Crawford he would proceed only if she "thought herself prepared to die." She said she was ready, but they needn't have worried. Mrs. Crawford came through with flying colors and in less than a month was on the way home to Green County.

Funded project of Kentucky Humanities. Kentucky Humanities is a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information regarding this event:

Time: 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Contact: Leah W Craig Phone: (859) 987-7274
Hopewell Museum
800 Pleasant Street
Paris, KY 40361
United States
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