A quiet room in the oldest building of MGH
(Massachusetts General Hospital
). It is actually the dome on top of the Bullfinch building
, visible from outside. It was the site of the very first ether surgery
(first public one anyway, ether had been used for a while prior, however the results were not previously published).
It is setup like a lecture hall. A large section of chairs, set on a stand with many levels, like stairs. The section of these chairs curves around, making almost a semi-circle, around a small piece of open floor.
On October 16, 1846, the first public demonstration of anesthesia was given,
in that very room. The patient, Gilbert Abbot, was anesthetized with sulfuric
ether by William Thomas Green Morton (a dentist, who designed the device for
delivering the ether; a small glass chamber containing a sponge). The
surgeon, John Collins Warren (a professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical
School), removed a tumor from the patients jaw.
This event marks a huge change in medicine. No longer did the surgeons knife
mean pain. Prior to ether, surgery was reserved as an absolute last ditch
effort. The amount of pain involved (due to the patient being awake and able
to feel pain) was just too great.
Today the ether dome stands as a monument to this event. It is occasionally
used for some sort of event, but is normally just open to the public. There
is a small passageway around the dome that has been turned into a little
museum, with pictures and even some artifacts.
You can easily get to it by going in the main entrance of MGH, going down
the central hallway, and turning right, down the hallway marked "bullfinch".
Follow the hallway around to a set of stairs and go up to the third floor.
It sits right in between the two wings of the building.