Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
James Young Simpson
Sir James Young Simpson, (June 7, 1811 born in Bathgate, Linlithgowshire – died May 6, 1870), professor of midwifery at the University of Edinburgh and physician to Queen Victoria, was a pioneer in Victorian medicine.
Simpson completed his final medical examination at the age of 18 and ,being too young, had to wait two years before he got his licence to practice medicine. He developped an interest in obstetrics, and by the age of 28 he became Chair of the Midwifery at the University of Edinburgh. He improved on the design of the obstetrical forceps and ,like Semmelweis, he fought against the contagiousness of puerperal sepsis. His most noted contribution, however, was the introduction of anesthesia to childbirth.
On January 19, 1847 he was the first to apply a modern anesthetic, ether, to alleviate the pain of labor. Many opposed this practice as it was viewed as an act against nature or the will of God. Despite such hostilities, Simpson searched further to find a better anesthetic and discovered the effects of chloroform. Vindication of his efforts came when Queen Victoria used chloroform during the delivery of Prince Leopold in 1853. The anesthetist was John Snow.
Full recognition was quick to follow. He was the first man to be knighted for services to medicine. On the side, Simpson sported some of the finest sideburns in history. He died at the age of fifty-nine and was was buried in Warriston Cemetery in Edinburgh; the funeral procession was joined by 1,700 people and attended by over 100,000. Victo Dolore (pain concered) is the inscription of his coat of arms.
Speert H: Obstetric and Gynecologic Milestones. The MacMillan Company, New York, 1958.
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