From time immemorial there have been operations or surgeries of very kind practiced by both medical doctors and traditional healers. Both major and minor surgeries were very painful because nothing had been discovered to relief the pain or cause numbness for these surgeries or operations to be less painful. (Karlet 2004) notes, “With time some pioneers on medicine tried everything and every way to find something or some drug that may relieve the pain.
However, the most looked after drug was the one that will induce sleep or unconsciousness at the same time creates lack of sensation”. History has it that many early doctors tried many ways until one William Morgan discovered and introduced surgical anesthesia of its kind and it proved working even better than any other anesthesia of that time. This paper will focus on William Thomas Green Morgan, his achievements, challenges, controversies and successes. It will analyze the impact of his discoveries from his times to the modern times in nursing anesthesia.
However, (D’Antonio 1999) notes that, “the discovery of anesthesia was dogged with controversy for the reason that many people at that time wanted to go to the books of history and to be known as the first to discover the most sorts after remedy in the world of medicine”. Impact Analysis. William Thomas Green Morgan was born in the year 1819 in Charlton Massachusetts. He attended Northfield and Leicester academies for his education. After school William T. G. Morgan was an enterprising young man of many interests as he tried his luck in everything that came on his way.
He became a painter for a while, then worked as a clerk in Worcester County and later tried his hand in business as a salesman in Boston. William Morgan never showed interest in medicine or anything related to medicine. Nevertheless, when he tried all these ventures, he never found them satisfying and thus he was not settled. After all these adventures Morgan joined Baltimore College of Dental Surgery in eighteen forty (1840). This was the world’s first college of dentistry even though William Morgan was not the first student to go through this college.
During his studies Morgan partnered in business with Horace Wells who was a dental doctor by profession in Hartford. Morgan found that the partnership was not promising and working the way he wanted and thought thereby dissolving their partnership after a few months. After this partnership dissolution, Morgan the dental student left the college midway and hence did not graduate (Wolfe 2001). In the year 1844 William Morgan joined college again and this time round it was the prestigious Harvard Medical School.
His intention was to increase or advance his dental knowledge even though it was shadowed by trying to impress his girlfriend Rebecca by name who he married later. Unfortunately this time again he never completed his degree from Harvard medical school. However, he developed curiosity in the field of medicine and because he never completed his degree, he started attending chemistry lectures by Professor Charles Jackson. From this time on William Morgan developed great interest and liking in chemistry and medicine in general despite the fact that he was more business oriented than a medical practitioner.
During his attendance in chemistry lectures that touched on ether and its properties Morgan felt to capitalize that opportunity of using ether to lessen pain or create lack of sensation during surgery. It was a horrendous experience especially when patients were recommended for amputations. William Morgan himself during his youth had undergone a very painful surgery but fortunately he survived. At last there was some promising remedy as the inhalation of ether caused or induced unconsciousness.
William Morgan tried these ether properties while extracting a tooth of a patient and it was very successful and painless. He went as far as testing this ether on himself and animals which worked right. This showed how eager and curious he was to invent the proper anesthetic to help patients recommended to undergo surgery. The history of anesthesia was awakened. Before William Morgan many other remedies of painless surgery had been tried but they were not a success and some became poisonous. Some reduced the pain and some did not.
Alcohol was used and it was not a success story. William Morgan used ether after keenly learning its properties and Professor Charles Jackson. This was the anesthetic that had been discovered because William proved it right after extracting a patient’s tooth painlessly in Boston. At last William Morgan was relieved but controversy started after claiming to have discovered an anesthesia which indeed worked. However, he continued practicing as a dentist and the money from this proceedings or practice supported his education (Wolfe 2001).
Morgan was more a businessman than a dentist as controversies surrounding his discovery raged on as (Wolfe 2001) claims that “William Morgan was an unsuccessful businessman, an embezzler and a poorly trained dentist who saw in an anesthetic properties of ether an opportunity to become rich”. The controversy was among his competitors, among them Horace Wells the dentist and Professor Charles Jackson the chemist who was his lectures. But it was William Morgan who in 1846 became the first man to use ether to extract a tooth of his patient painlessly in Boston General Hospital.
Early William Morgan had tried opium which only but relieved pain (Wolfe 2001). This and many other attempts aroused the eagerness to find anesthesia nevertheless ether became very popular not only in Boston and the United States of America but the discovery news spread around the whole world like wild fire. Communication during those years was extremely underdeveloped and poor but transport by water was in use and the sailors carried the good news of the discovery to Asia, Europe and Australia far down the Pacific.
Many doctors and surgeons wanted to prove the good news as others criticized it. The discovery and the experimentation of ether by William Morgan was very controversial because even his teacher wanted to be recognized as the one who discovered the anesthetic properties of ether, but it was clear that all these people who claimed to be the first to make the discovery did not attempt to test and put it into practical use, only William T. G. Morgan dared and indeed he succeeded.
In the United States the controversy raged on as who was who that was behind etherization as William Morgan continued to use it on his patients and it really worked. (Royal College of Anesthetists 2008), “Morton conducted various experiments on him and animals and afterwards he successfully performed a dental extraction in his office in Boston. ” As time went by Morton’s experience with ether was a success, the horrible and noisy surgeries were past tense.
William Morton went a step further to invent an ether delivery instrument which he called Letheon Inhaler which was used by patients to inhale ether. (The Royal College of Anesthetists. Internet source 2008). William Thomas Green Morton was a man to reckon with during the mid 19th century because his inner drive desire was to alleviate the pain and the suffering of patients recommended for surgery even though in the back of his mind he wanted to make profit out of it. This had caused controversy among historians.
After all William Morton was open-hearted because he gave his discovery to the world without any restrictions. However, he was unsuccessful to patent his Letheon Inhaler. (Royal College of Anesthetists 2008) notes that, “Morton offered free rights to his innovation to all charitable institutions the country and undoubtedly he was ardently in favor of the abolition of surgical pain although with profit to himself”. Morton’s discovery was handy during the American bloody civil war as many injured soldiers were relieved of pain and operated on painlessly by the use of ether.
Morton himself administered ether to thousands of the combatants in the civil war. (The Royal College of Anesthetists. Internet source 2008). These controversies dogged him for a long time until one time he met the then 14th president of the United States Franklin Pierce to highlight to him the controversies he was facing so that he can give a verdict on his case but all was in vain. Historians have generally agreed that Morton set the pace for ether and other subsequent anesthetics to be used (Wolfe 2001).
He (Wolfe 2001) further says, “In history, controlling the pain caused by surgery had been a problem for a long for a long time, many chemical agents with pain relieving properties were recognized before they were used practically even though some like chloroform were harmful and dangerous. Morton started systematic studies on the anesthetic effects of ether convinced the medical world the importance of pain free operations through his demonstration of ether inhalation. The news of ether inhalation and anesthesia spread around the world very quickly and the first to be administered outside the USA was in Norway in the year 1847”.
The good news spread to other parts of the world was published in magazines and newspapers as dental doctors and surgeons tried the new discovery which for them was a great and or tremendous success in history of painless surgery. (The Royal College of Anesthetists. Internet source 2008). Unfortunately, William T. G. Morgan died from cerebral hemorrhage due to the heat wave that New York in the year eighteen sixty seven (1867) after being dogged by controversies over his great discovery of ether and its administration during surgery.
During the 19th century and there before surgery on the stomach and inside the skull was a no- go zone, some cases surgery speed was the only determinant of a successful surgery but many were unsuccessful. (Wolfe 2001). From that time of William Morgan, anesthesia has been revolutionalized and today it is very safe. There are no death cases from anesthesia with specially trained anesthetists who are only specializing in this field. There are no toxic and dangerous agents in the present anesthetics which have proven the advancement that has been marked in this field.
In today’s surgery, for instance, a patient operated in the lower abdomen, nerves can be blocked near the lower part of the spinal cord and there is no need of inducing sleep as the operation goes on well while talking with the patient. (Taffe and Samuels 2003). Conclusion. The evolution of anesthesia has been very controversial from the side of William Morton but he achieved what his rivals were not near to achieve but only popped up when he (William Morgan) had made many sacrifices to achieve what was so important in the nursing world. Anesthesia has been one of the most advanced discoveries which was dangerous and today it is very safe.
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