1809: Dr. Ephraim McDowell, a pioneer in abdominal surgery, examines his patient and makes the decision to attempt the first surgical removal of an ovarian tumor, earning him the sobriquet “Father of Ovariotomy.”
I was born in Danville, Kentucky and was raised there when I was very young and returned when I was in high school. Our hospital is named after Dr McDowell. I also worked as a docent for two summers at the Ephraim McDowell House, guiding people through the museum, transcribing historical documents, etc. It has a lovely apothecary and garden attached to it.
Dr McDowell successfully performed the operation on Jane Todd Crawford, who had originally been thought to be pregnant with twins, but in fact was harbouring a tumour that weighed 22 1/2 lbs. The operation was done without anaesthetics or antiseptics, but was a success and Mrs Crawford lived to be 78 (she was 45 at the time of the operation). Ironically, she outlived Dr McDowell, who himself died of an abdominal issue--appendicitis--in 1830.
You know me, I love history, and being a docent is probably what first got me headed that direction as a major, even though I specialised in European ancient and mediaeval history. But I'm a big fan of local history as well. I'm glad a one of Danville's luminaries made it into Wired. I still have my docent's guidebook, even though I was 16 when I started working there, 27 years ago. :) What can I say, I hoard things.