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Freedom From Pain

  William Morton was studying at Harvard Medical College in Boston In 1844. In those days no special training was required to pull teeth. The great pain that his patients had to suffer bothered Morton. A patient would scream with pain when his tooth was being pulled. He often had to be tied to the chair so that the dentist could work.
  As he walk through the hospital, Morton could hear the screams of patients in operating rooms. He listened to the lecturer tellind sadly to students that sometimes the pain of surgical operating was so great that a patient would die from shock. The young Morton was concerned with the problem of pain. One day he visited Dr. Charles Jackson, who was both a geologist and a chemist. he often experimented with gases, particularly nitrous oxyde and ether. He told Morton that once he had accidentally inhaled some ether had become unconsciuous. But after a few minute he had recovered conscious without any memory of what had happened while he was unconscious.
  From his medical books, Morton learned that Sir Humphry Davy had experimented with nitrous oxyde and it had the same effect as ether. He had observed that some people who had inhaled nitrous oxyde had become insensible and were unable to feel pain. For this reason Davy thought that the gas might be useful in surgical operations. But he did not carry his work any further.
  Morton decided to test Davy's conclusion. He poured some ether into a cloth and put it near the nose of his dog. In a few second the dog slumped to the floor. Morton examined the dog's breathing and heartbeat. They were normal and after a few minutes tha dog awakened and watch him. The next day he experimented on other animals and the results were the same.
  His final step was he inhaled the ether himself in his room. He breathed the ether fumes and soon he lost consciousness. When he awakened, he felt numbness in his arms and legs, but gradually he felt all right. He was happy with the success of his experiment. Two days later a man who was in a great pain from a bad toothache came to Morton's office. He tried to experiment with the ether and the patient lost consciousness, he was surprised to find that the tooth had been pulled and he had felt nothing.
  Dr. John Collins Warrens, a surgeon agreed to a demonstration in front of an audience of doctors and medical students. After applying ether to the patient, Morton said, "Your patient is ready, Doctor." Dr. Warrens operated the patient quickly. He removed a large tumor from the neck of the patient. No movement of patient, no loud screams was heard, a twisting of arms and legs interfered with the surgeon's work. Everybody cheered as Dr. Morton shook hands with Dr. Warrens. Freedom from pain in surgery had been born.

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