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Crawford Williamson Long (1815-1878), American physician, is credited with the first

use of ether as an anesthetic in a surgical procedure.


Long was born in Danielsville, Madison County, Georgia on March 1, 1815. At the

age of 14 he entered Franklin College in Athens (later the University of Georgia), graduating in 1835. The following year he served as principal of an academy in Danielsville while studying medicine with a doctor in a nearby town.
He received his M.D. degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 1839.
Long used ether for the first time on March 30, 1842 to remove a tumor from the

neck of a patient, James M. Venable, in Jefferson, Georgia.


Long subsequently removed a second tumor from Venable and used ether as an

anesthetic in amputations and childbirth. The results of these trials were published in 1849 in The Southern Medical and Surgical Journal.

Although Long is historically credited with the first use of ether, his delay in

announcing his discovery lessened recognition for him and robbed him of a primary position in the discovery of modern anesthesia.
In 1851 Long moved to Athens, Ga., where he built a thriving practice and spent

the rest of his life. During the Civil War he enlisted in the Georgia infantry. After the war he was appointed surgeon to the military post in Athens. He died on July 16, 1878.
The Crawford W. Long Museum in downtown Jefferson, Georgia has been in

operation since 1957. Crawford Long Middle School, in Atlanta, Georgia, was also named in his honor. A statue of Crawford Long stands in the crypt of the United States Capitol as one of the two designated monuments to represent the state of Georgia in the National Statuary Hall Collection.

Back in the 19th century, Georgia physician Crawford Long and his friends liked to

have a good time on occasion. At these parties, a couple of recently discovered drugs, nitrous oxide and sulfuric ether, were used recreationally. Long was already acquainted with their euphoric and hypnotic effects, but at these parties, he noticed that his fellow revelers didn't appear to feel pain when they were in the depths of an ether binge.
It's a testament to Long's curious nature that he would abandon the fun to

investigate exactly why ether led to painlessness. On March 30, 1842, the doctor performed his first operation using ether as an anesthetic while removing a tumor from the neck of a patient. Despite an utter lack of use of anesthesia at the time, Long cautiously continued his experimentation on successive surgeries until he was satisfied that the anesthetic really worked.
Long's curiosity contributed to the field of surgery and anesthesiology, helping to

manage pain in health care like never before.