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October 18, 1965


JAMA. 1965;194(3):292-293. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090160070023

Robert Liston, who performed the first major operation in London on a patient under ether anesthesia, spent his career practicing bold surgery without benefit of anesthetic drugs. Liston was born in the manse of Ecclesmachan Linlithgowshire, the eldest child of the minister of the parish.1 He was educated chiefly by his father and, at the age of 14, entered the University of Edinburgh where he promptly excelled in Latin. At the age of 16, he became assistant to Dr. John Barclay who, in his lectures on anatomy and physiology, passed on to his pupils respect and appreciation for good surgery. Liston began his hospital training at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, then continued under the Blizards at the London Hospital, and under Abernethy at St. Bartholomew's Hospital. He returned to Edinburgh and, by the age of 24, was a member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and