George Washington Crile, Sr.

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George Washington Crile, Sr.

Death: 1943 (78-79)
Immediate Family:

Son of Michael Crile and Margaret Dietz
Husband of Grace Crile
Father of George "Barney" Washington Crile, Jr.; Private; Private and Private
Brother of Margaret Merilla Crile

Occupation: Surgeon, Founder of Cleveland CLinic
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About George Washington Crile, Sr.

Physician, Surgeon. He performed the first successful human blood transfusion and developed the Electrochemical Theory of Life.

George Washington Crile, Sr. (1864-1943)

Crile is best known today as the principal founder of the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. In his own time Dr. Crile was an internationally respected surgeon, who was making strides forward in understanding surgical shock. He perfected an operation for goiter and thyroid disease and promoted the monitoring of blood pressure during surgery.

Dr. Crile is sometimes incorrectly credited with the first successful human blood transfusion because he did devise methods of transfusion (1905) and pioneered its use in surgery. Crile worked under Frank Weed (a protégé of Gustav Weber) who specialized in railway and industrial accidents. This spawned Crile's interest in the affects of shock and trauma on the outcome of surgical procedures, and led to his landmark work Blood Pressure in Surgery (1903).

Dr. Crile came from modest background, growing up on a farm near the village of Chili, Ohio (close to Zanesville). He received his B.A. from Ohio Northern University (1895), and his M.D. from Wooster Medical School (1887). He was a founding member of the American College of Surgery and served as the organization's second president in 1906-1907.

Crile served as a surgeon in the military in the Spanish American War and also in World War I, rising to the rank of General. Dr. Crile established the first detachment of the American Expeditionary and was put in charge of research for the AEF. Crile's cousin, Dr.William Lower joined the Unit as Commanding Officer. Dr. Fred Bunts also joined the unit. After the War in 1921, these three surgeons and Dr. John Phillips formed a group practice that was organized as a non-profit corporation known as the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Military experiences convinced these surgeons of the value of grouping of specialties together in one medical facility.

Grace McBride and George Crile were married on February 7th, 1900. She was the sister of Criles golf partner, Herbert Mcbride and her father was president of the Cleveland Park Board. They had four children: George, Jr. (also known as Barney), Robert, Margaret, and Elizabeth.

From the historical marker in Coshocton County, Ohio:

George Washington Crile was born in 1864 at Chili, in Crawford Township, Coshocton County. Before embarking on his notable medical career, he graduated from Northwestern Ohio Normal School (now Ohio Northern University) at Ada, teaching for two years before becoming principal at Plainfield School. Crile first studied medicine under village physician Dr. A.E. Walker, who loaned him medical books and took him on calls to visit rural patients. Later in life Crile credited his early experience in education in Plainfield as one of the most influential points in his career.

A pioneering surgeon and medical researcher of the early twentieth century, Dr. George Washington Crile graduated from Wooster University Medical School in 1887 and joined the college as a professor, a teaching role he continued throughout his life. He served in the Spanish-American War as an Army surgeon and brought clinical advances to the battlefields of World War I. An innovator in the field of surgery, he contributed greatly to the understanding of the role of shock in surgical physiology, including novel techniques in nerve-block anesthesia and blood transfusion. In 1921 he co-founded the Cleveland Clinic, serving as chief surgeon and president of the internationally acclaimed medical facility to the end of his career. Crile died in 1943.

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George Washington Crile, Sr.'s Timeline

November 3, 1907
Cleveland, OH, United States
Age 79