Ephraim McDowell Biography

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Who is Ephraim McDowell? Information on Ephraim McDowell biography, life story, works.

Ephraim McDowellEphraim McDowell; American surgeon : born in Rockbridge County, Va., Nov. 11, 1771; death Danville, Ky., June 25, 1830. The son of Samuel McDowell, who played an important role in the convention which drew up the Kentucky constitution, he was educated in medicine under Dr. Alexander Hurnphreys in Staunton, Va., and Dr. John Bell in Edinburgh, Scotland. From 1795 he lived in Danville, Ky., where he gained a considerable reputation as a surgeon and a teacher. A pioneer in abdorninal surgery, he performed in 1809 an ovariotomy by abdominal section on Mrs. Jane Todd Crawford, who consented to the operation in spite of his warning that it had never before been performed without fatal results. This operation (the first ovariotomy in medical history) was successful, and the patient, who was 47 at the time, lived to be 78 years old. McDowell wrote little and the few published notices of his work were ignored at first; but by 1829 he had performed 12 ovariotomies as well as numerous other abdominal operations. Among his patients was James Knox Polk, later president of the United States. McDowell was one of the founders (1819) of Centre College in Danville.

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