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May 10, 1976

James M. Venable: First Patient to Receive Ether Anesthesia

Author Affiliations

St John's Hospital and Health Center Santa Monica, Calif

JAMA. 1976;235(19):2082. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260450014018

To the Editor.—  I am pleased that Gilbert Abbott was acknowledged in The Journal (235:706, 1976). Perhaps it was shortsighted, but not intentional, to have slighted my colleagues from below the Mason-Dixon Line by failing to mention another great name inmedical history, James M. Venable, the first patient to receive a surgical ether anesthetic on March 30, 1842, administered by Crawford W. Long, MD, of Jefferson, Ga. According to Keys,1 Mr Venable was a personal friend of Dr Long's, and it was only after some persuasion that Venable agreed to the anesthetic, for removal of a small tumor of the neck. Dr Long did not publish an account of the procedure until December 1849, in the Southern Medical and Surgical Journal.Henceforth, we shall indeed celebrate James M. Venable Day on March 30. A frolic is a frolic, and two a year is better than one.