A Potent Whiff
In the 19th century, with the exception of ether, there were few anesthetics to relieve the pain of childbirth. In 1847, Sir James Young Simpson, M.D., a prominent obstetrician and a professor of medicine and midwifery at Edinburgh, Scotland, introduced chloroform. Chloroform, a colorless liquid that produces a vapor that renders the patient unconscious, began to be widely used for procedures other than childbirth, although a dangerous side effect was its high incidence of liver damage and heart problems. Today it is used daily as a flavoring and preservative for other medicines. Simpson, born on this date in 1811, was also an archaeologist.
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