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This Day in Georgia History

March 30, 1842

Sulfuric Ether First Used as Anesthesia

To view a publication on Crawford Long’s use of ether, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

At his office in Jefferson, Georgia., Dr. Crawford W. Long administered sulfuric ether to James Venable as an anesthesia for the painless removal of two tumors from Venable’s neck. Unfortunately, Long did not publish the results of his operation until 1849. By then, several other doctors and dentists also were claiming to have been the first to use ether as an anesthesia. Nevertheless, Long’s March 30, 1842 operation is generally recognized as the first instance of the use of anesthesia during surgery. As an interesting footnote to Long’s story, his fee to James Venable for the anesthesia and surgery was just two dollars! In recognition of Long’s achievement, the U.S. Post Office issued a Crawford Long commemorative stamp in 1940.

Image of Sulfuric Ether First Used as Anesthesia View large image
Source: Collection of Ed Jackson