The first use of ether as an anesthetic in 1846 by William Thomas Green Morgan. Oil painting by Ernest Board, circa 1920. Public domain. Available from Wikimedia Commons.
World Anesthaesia Day, observed on October 16, commemorates the first recorded demonstration of ether as an anesthetic.
William Thomas Green Morton, a dentist, had previously administered ether to a patient on 30
September 1846 before extracting a tooth. After reading about the
procedure, Dr. Henry Jacob Bigelow, a Boston surgeon, arranged for a demonstration.
On 16 October 1846 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, Morton used ether to anesthetize Edward Gilbert Abbott. Dr. John Collins Warren then removed a tumor from Abbott's neck.
The use of ether as an anesthetic made painless surgery possible. Before the development of anesthesia, alcohol was often used to try to control the pain of surgery. Our ancestors who had surgical procedures performed both before and after the use of anesthesia must have really appreciated this advancement!
From Agony to Anesthesia
The Morton Family Collection 1849-1911
William T. G. Morton
World Anasthaesia Day
World Anasthaesia Day 2015