WellesleyWeston Magazine


Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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Page 71 of 211

The Man This much we know for sure: One of history's most significant surgical advances took place 170 years ago at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) on October 16, 1846. In an operating theater illuminated only by sunlight beamed through an overhead dome, a twenty-year-old house painter was undergoing surgery to remove a congenital jaw tumor. A twenty-five-year-old dentist, Dr. William T. G. Morton of Wellesley, was administering ether fumes to the patient from a glass flask containing a soaked sponge. It was an attempt to attain the Holy Grail that had thus far eluded the medical world: pain-free surgery. Morton, who kept animals on his Wellesley estate (where Town Hall now stands), had practiced for that day by etherizing a chicken, a dog, and one of his dental patients in need of a tooth extraction. After inhaling Morton's ether, the MGH patient awoke from the sur- gery, declaring that he had felt no pain. In an age where surgery was a last resort, with patients even being knocked unconscious to mask the agony, 70 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s u m m e r 2 0 1 6 P H O T O C O U R T E S Y O F T H E W E L L E S L E Y H I S T O R I C A L S O C I E T Y Dr. William T. G. Morton Dr. William T. G. Morton of Wellesley The Controversial Hero of "Ether Day"

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