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Scottish surgeon James Syme (1799-1870), aged 65

Scottish surgeon James Syme (1799-1870), aged 65

H419/0160

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SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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James Syme (1799-1870), Scottish surgeon, aged 65. Syme studied under the British surgeon Robert Liston and was probably the greatest surgeon in the pre-anaesthesia era. He was particularly famed for his work on joint disease, aneurysm, hare-lip and cleft palate. In mid-life he enthused over the newly discovered technique of anaesthesia, and later over the antiseptic technique devised by his son-in-law Joseph Lister. As a boy Syme was a chemical enthusiast. At 18 he discovered and published a method of waterproofing cloth by rubberizing. A Glasgow chemist, Charles Mackintosh, patented the technique, gave his name to it and made a fortune.

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