You would say I am a bit of a history nut when it comes to Kentucky. I like to read about the history of our state and its people. Kentucky sometimes gets a bad name. Everyone has heard the stories about Kentucky people being hillbillies and going around barefoot all the time. (I do like to go barefoot!) Our state is rich in political leaders, nationally acclaimed authors and musicians, just to name a few.
I am originally from Frankfort, the state capital of Kentucky, but lived in Boyle County for many years.
Danville, the county seat of Boyle County, is home to the Ephraim McDowell House.
My daughter worked here as a tour guide when she was in school.
The Ephraim McDowell House was the location of the world’s first successful abdominal surgery performed by Dr. Ephraim McDowell in 1809.
Dr. McDowell was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia in 1771 but moved to Kentucky with his father when he was twelve years of age. He studied medicine in Virginia and Scotland and in 1795 opened his practice in Danville.
In 1809, Dr. McDowell was called to Green County, Kentucky to see a patient, Mrs. Jane Crawford, thought to be pregnant and expecting twins. Dr. McDowell, upon examining Mrs. Crawford, discovered she was not pregnant at all but had an ovarian tumor. He advised his patient that he would do experimental surgery if she would come to his house for the procedure. A few days later, Mrs. Crawford, rode sixty miles on horseback to the McDowell House.
On Christmas morning in 1809, Dr. McDowell performed the surgery without benefit of anesthetic and removed an ovarian tumor that weighed twenty-two and one-half pounds. The operation was successful!
Twenty-five days later Mrs. Crawford was well enough to travel and returned to her home nine miles south of Greensburg in Green County.
Jane Crawford lived for 32 more years after the operation.
Dr. McDowell died in 1830 with what is believed to have been a ruptured appendix.
The Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville is named for Dr. McDowell.
Can you imagine riding 60 miles on a horse with a 22 lb. tumor and having surgery with no pain medicine? Then, being recuperated enough in about three weeks or so to go home and live another 32 years. Talk about a strong woman!!!
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