Remarkable Operation
Steele Scrapbook - September 1, 1885



A New Case in Surgery Which, if Successful, Will Create a Stir in Medical Circles —Death at the Surgeon's Table Preferred to a Life of Suffering.

NEW YORK , Sept. 1.A remarkable operation was performed at the Charity Hospital to-day, which the medical profession has always been adverse to undertake, but which, if the patient survives, will result in a new discovery in surgery. In twenty-five cases quoted by Doctor Barnes but three survived a similar operation. Ann Curry, 50 years old, entered the hospital three months ago and was assigned to the gynecological department for treatment. She was the victim of malignant cancer. Two years before she was in the full vigor of health. As the disease manifested itself, she sought relief. She determined to resort to some eminent authority upon the subject, but being without means she was surprised to enter the Charity Hospital. The doctor whose duty it is to examine and classify such cases at once sent her to ward No. 5, where she met Doctor Thomas H. Allen, of No. 21 Park Avenue, a visiting surgeon of the hospital, who informed her of the nature of the grave disease with which she was afflicted. She asked the doctor: "Will an operation kill me?" He informed her the chances would be one in a hundred. "Then," she said, "I would rather die on the surgeon's table than live and suffer as I do day after day, and we will take that chance." The physician decided to undertake the operation, which in tabulated cases, has proved fatal. The patient cheerfully consented to the operation, and through her illness has displayed a heroic coolness. After a consultation, the operation was performed this afternoon at 2 o'clock in the presence of a large number of prominent physicians and surgeons, in the amphitheatre of the Charity hospital. As Dr. Bridger informed Dr. Allen that everything was in readiness for work, Ann Curry walked into the room. The atmosphere was filled with the odor of ether. The young doctor administering the anaesthetic touched the pupil of the eye to know if the anaesthesia were complete, another physician felt the pulse, which was beating regularly, and Doctor Bridger informed Doctor Allen that the patient was ready. Dr. Allen then addressed the assemblage, and said: "I am aware that the weight of authority is against the performance of such an operation, so fatal has it proven in nearly every instance in which it has been done. At the same time here is a woman whose life must soon draw to a terrible close if left to herself, but if operated upon in acquiescence with her own request and under our improved appliances for the destruction of germs, there is a slight hope which I regard as my duty to accord the sufferer."

Doctor Allen then with a sharp knife made a long, straight, incision into the abdomen. The chief assistant ligated the arteries. An attendant with a spray atomizer kept sprinkling an antiseptic fluid upon the wound. The pulse of the patient continued strong, but at the supreme moment, when Doctor Allen was about to remove the diseased organs, a faint pulse compelled him to desist until his assistant injected some brandy hypodermically. The patient grew stronger, and the operation proceeded. One artery after another was tied until the removal of the organs was completed. The wound was then sewed up with silver wire, and the operation was brought to a termination, which was regarded as the most successful one that has ever taken place on the island. Among those present who witnessed the operation were Doctors J. D. Ferguson, H. Goldthwaite, C. N. Thompson, A. C. Bridges, B. H. Wells, William Moore, W. T. White, C. L. Culpepper, Albert Lino, of New Jersey, A. C. Brinkman, of Brooklyn, and L. L. Seaman, chief of staff of the Charity hospital.

Doctor Allen was asked this afternoon if he was confident of success in the operation. "No, not not [sic] exactly," he replied: "but I hope to be, although the chances are against it."

"Does your position as visiting physician to the island allow you to exercise your own judgment in the government of such cases as you had to day?" "Of course. It is for the benefit of the patients that eminent physicians are appointed as visitors to the island." The doctor smiled and added: "I may not, however, be classified in that category you know."

Unceremoniously Stolen From Alf

Dreadful Sentiments...