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June 17, 1961

Laceration of the Heart: Repair and Recovery: 1877

Author Affiliations


Resident Physician in Pathology and Curator of the Historical Library, Pennsylvania Hospital, Eighth and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia 7. Penn.

JAMA. 1961;176(11):964-965. doi:10.1001/jama.1961.63040240024023

Daniel Hale Williams, of Chicago, is said to have successfully sutured a nonpenetrating wound of the left ventricle in 1893, but details of this are meagre. Guido Farina, an Italian, sutured a dagger wound of the heart in 1896, but the patient died postoperatively. In the same year Ludwig Rehn, a German, sutured a stab wound of the heart, inflicted 36 hours before operation, with recovery.1,2 Without attempting to assign priority or paternity —always presumptuous in historical matters—it may be of interest to consider the successful management of a stab wound of the heart before Rehn's success.

Shortly before 9:30 P.M., June 7, 1877, a 17-year-old blacksmith was seen by Dr. Thomas G. Morton,* of Philadelphia, and subsequently was admitted to Pennsylvania Hospital. Dr. Morton's letter to the resident surgeon, Dr. W. B. Hopkins, stated: "I send you a case of penetrating wound of the chest involving the