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About Crawford W. Long
Crawford Williamson Long (November 1, 1815 – June 16, 1878) was an American surgeon and pharmacist best known for his first use of inhaled diethyl ether as an anesthetic. Although his work was unknown outside a small circle of colleagues for several years, he is now recognized as the first physician to have administered ether anesthesia for surgery.
Life and work
Long was born in Danielsville, Madison County, Georgia on November 1, 1815.
He received his M.D. degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 1839. After observing the same physiological effects with diethyl ether ("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 the neck of a patient, James M. Venable, in Jefferson, Georgia. Long subsequently removed a second tumor from Venable and used ether as an anesthetic in amputations and childbirth. The results of these trials were published in 1849 in The Southern Medical and Surgical Journal. An original copy of this publication is held in the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Crawford Long was a member of the Demosthenian Literary Society while a student at the University of Georgia and shared a room with Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. Long was a cousin of the western legend Doc Holliday.
Long died in Athens, Georgia in 1878. The Emory-University-operated Crawford W. Long Hospital in downtown Atlanta, Georgia was named in his honor in 1931 and retained that name for 78 years. In 2009 the hospital was renamed "Emory University Hospital Midtown". The Crawford W. Long Museum in downtown Jefferson, Georgia has been in operation since 1957. Crawford Long Middle School, in Atlanta, Georgia, was also named in his honor. A statue of Crawford Long stands in the crypt of the United States Capitol as one of the two designated monuments to represent the state of Georgia in the National Statuary Hall Collection.
On October 16, 1846, unaware of Long's prior work with ether during surgery, William T. G. Morton administered ether anesthesia before a medical audience at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Although Long had informed several surgical colleagues who had similarly administered ether in their practices, Morton is generally credited with the first public demonstration of ether anesthesia. In 1854, Long requested William Crosby Dawson, a U.S. Senator, to present his claims of ether anesthesia discovery to the attention of Congress.
He died on June 16, 1878, of a stroke after delivering a baby.
Long was honored in the "Famous American Series" of postage stamps in 1940.