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February 16, 1976

Gilbert Abbott

Author Affiliations

Saint John's Hospital Santa Monica, Calif

JAMA. 1976;235(7):706. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260330016007

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To the Editor.—  A certain amount of fame has been accorded William T. G. Morton, rightfully honoring him for the first clinical demonstration of ether anesthesia at the Ether Dome of the Massachusetts General Hospital on Oct 16, 1846. Unfortunately, that first patient has been overlooked in medical history, and in these days of consumer advocacy, he should indeed be remembered. That patient was Gilbert Abbott. One can imagine Mr Abbott's disappointment when he was told that he was not to receive the usual alcoholic beverages prior to surgery to help deaden the pain. He certainly must have been a bit apprehensive to learn that no double-blind studies on white mice had preceded the clinical demonstration, and that he himself was to be the first experimental animal.To accord this hero his due honor, at Saint John's Hospital we celebrate "Gilbert Abbott Day" each Oct 16 with an appropriate frolic.