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Engraving of Sir James Simpson, Scottish physician

Engraving of Sir James Simpson, Scottish physician

H419/0174

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Credit

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

James Simpson. Engraving of Sir James Young Simpson (1811-70), the Scottish obstetrician who was the first to use anaesthetics during child- birth. Simpson first used ether during a difficult labour on 19 January 1847. In November 1847 he began using chloroform to avoid carrying around heavy bottles of ether. Simpson noted that child- birth 'goes on with more regularity when not under the influence of the will of the patient'. He published a controversial pamphlet, Account of a New Anaesthetic Agent (1847). Opponents claimed that painful labour was a biological and religious necessity. The clamour died down in 1853 after Queen Victoria used chloroform during childbirth.

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