Saturday, May 31, 2008

Kitchen-table surgery

As I've said before, tales of kitchen-table abortions in the "bad old days" need to be placed in the context of their times, when kitchen-table surgery was the not unusual:


  • House Calls and Home Care: "One account of kitchen table surgery performed by Drs. Eustace and Mary Sloop around 1917 seems incredible by today’s standards. A 13-year-old girl in the mountains of Avery County urgently needed kidney surgery that winter. Impassable frozen creeks delayed the doctors for days, but they finally reached the girl’s home by horseback. They placed the girl on a sterile sheet on the kitchen table and had her mother administer ether. Curious neighbors and relatives pressed in close to watch and kept trying to touch the surgical instruments. A chicken strutted in, flew up in the air and landed on the girl’s stomach. The doctors feared the worst, but amazingly, the girl lived. Six weeks later, she walked down the mountain to visit her doctors."
  • The Dust Bowl Years: "Another dust-caused ailment of the period was ruptured appendixes. Country doctors who encountered a rash of them, were unable to perform even kitchen-table surgery while the dust blew, but without sophisticated help developed their own, drastic, simple procedures for coping. Rather than operating to remove the infected organs, they simply inserted drains so that the pus could run out. Their survival rates were phenomenally high in the pre-antibiotic era when a ruptured appendix ordinarily was a death warrant. Medical journals published later, when the doctors had time to write up their findings, describe the new procedures developed out of desperation. "

  • I have also found a medical journal article from 1901 and a medical textbook from 1921 describing hot to prepare for surgery performed in homes:
    I'd welcome other examples.

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    3 comments:

    trailer park said...

    Wow, so what's your point? Are you trying to say that illegal kitchen-table abortion is good for women?

    GrannyGrump said...

    No. I'm just pointing out that kitchen-table abortions were done on the kitchen table back when ALMOST ALL SURGERY was done on the kitchen table. The doctor was treating the woman seeking an illegal abortion like he or she would treat any patient seeking surgery.

    Remember, prolifers are opposed to ALL abortions. We weren't the ones performing the illegal ones. The "back alley butchers" were, after all, 100% "prochoicers".

    Olya Olegovna said...

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