Tag Archives: United Kingdom

William Marsden, surgeon and founder of the Royal Free and Royal Marsden Hospitals, London

Arpan K. Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Portrait of William Marsden by Thomas Illidge 1850. Picture in public domain. Source To found one hospital is a fairly unusual achievement; to found two is a rare feat indeed. William Marsden, a nineteenth-century British doctor, founded both the Royal Free Hospital and the Royal Cancer Hospital (now known […]

Joseph Merrick, “The Elephant Man”

JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   Fig 1. The Elephant man and other reminiscences As a specimen of humanity, Merrick was ignoble and repulsive; but the spirit of Merrick, if it can be seen in the form of the living, would assume the figure of an upstanding and heroic man . . .6 The […]

Professionalism in crisis: Dr. Winkel and The Third Man

Paul Dakin London, United Kingdom   Film Forum: The Third Man Times of crisis may highlight the best and worst characteristics of people. Many of us yearn to be heroes and yet what is revealed under pressure may fall short of our ideal. Doctors share this human frailty. Is medical training and professionalism enough to […]

Dirty, dark, dangerous: coal miners’ nystagmus

Ronald Fishman Chicago, Illinois, United States   A coal miner without a headlamp digging an undercut at the coal face, using only the dim light supplied by a small flame lamp. From Snell 12 It’s dark as a dungeon and damp as the dew, Where the danger is double and pleasures are few Where the rain […]

Blood and bandages

Patricia A. Unsworth Bolton, England, United Kingdom   Photograph by the author. The notorious Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, is possibly the first thought that comes to mind at the mention of barber surgeons, but how far from reality was this character of Victorian fiction? Perhaps not so far removed as one […]

Alternatives to blood transfusion

Geraldine Miller Liverpool, England   Wiliam Harvey demonstrating the circulation of the blood. iStock. In 1616 William Harvey first discovered how blood circulates around the body. This discovery stimulated research into transfusing blood from one person to another. Early attempts to replace blood began with liquids such as milk, both animal and human, urine, and […]

Eugenics: historic and contemporary

JMS Pearce Hull, England, United Kingdom   Moral judgments, changing ethical criteria, and the broader concepts of good and evil are always controversial, and often dangerous. Prominent amongst such judgments are those relating to population control and the wider, ill-defined field of eugenics. Hidden, and often ignored or denied in these conversations, is the underlying […]

“Blood made White”: the relationship between blood and breastmilk in early modern England

Jennifer Evans Sara Read United Kingdom   Womb (uterus), enlarged, Hendrik Bary, after Reinier de Graaf, 1672, Rijksmuseum. The early modern body was thought to be composed of and ordered by an intricate balance of fluids, the most important of which was blood. Blood was universally understood to have two origins: the heart and the […]

The remarkable Baldwin IV: leper and king of Jerusalem

John Turner Aintree, Liverpool, United Kingdom   The young King Baldwin William of Tyre discovers Baldwin’s first symptoms of leprosy 1250s, from Estoire d’Eracles (French trans. of William of Tyre’s Historia) British Library, London Medieval teen king, precocious politician, and successful battlefield commander, Baldwin IV not only surmounted disabling neurological impairment but challenged the stigma […]