Thursday, September 2, 2010

Crawford Long: An Almost Forgotten Name?

Most of my readers will probably not recognize the name “Crawford Long”. Atlantans may recognize it as the name of a hospital on Peachtree Street, but how long will that recognition last? The hospital’s name is now Emory University Hospital Midtown.

It’s understandable that the hospital’s owner, Emory University, wanted to extend its brand, but it’s a shame that the name of such important a discoverer as Crawford W. Long, M.D. now has one fewer reminder of his worldwide impact in health care.

Called “America’s Greatest Contribution to Medicine”, Dr. Long, on March 30, 1842, became the first to use ether anesthesia during surgery when he painlessly removed a cyst from the neck of James Venable.

The other day, I visited the Crawford W. Long Museum in Jefferson, Georgia.

Jefferson, the seat of Jackson County, in Northeast Georgia, is a town of fewer than 10,000 residents. Just a few miles off Interstate Highway 85, it is worth your time to take an extra hour while traveling between Atlanta to Greenville, South Carolina, to take a journey back in time to rural Georgia before the Civil War and stroll through this museum, which not only tells the story of Dr. Long and his discovery and exhibits some of his and his family’s possessions, but also includes the Pendergrass General Store, a grocery cum apothecary that is so “real” it makes you want to pull up a stool and enjoy a coke and a chat with the neighbors from a century and a half ago. Note: please forgive the literary license; coca-cola was not invented till 1868, just ten years before Dr. Long’s death. There is no record of his ever having drunk it, but the museum’s gift shop will sell you a commemorative 6-pack for $10.