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Child revived after falling into water

Year 1830, Henry Edward Harper

Read by Dominic Bernard – Supporter, Royal Humane Society

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April 30, 1830

Gentlemen, — On April 30th, 1830, I was called in to attend the infant child of Mrs. Knipe, of Greenwich, who had fallen into a large wash-tub full of water, in which it was discovered with its feet uppermost, apparently dead. I hastened to the house, where the child lay without the least visible sign of animation ; the surface and extremities quite cold ; the lips of a vivid hue, the eyes appeared glassy, and the pupils slightly dilated ; there was no perceptible action of the heart, or of the pulse at the wrist, and the mouth was slightly distorted. I directly immersed the child in a hot salt-and-water bath, and injected stimulants with sal-volatile, brandy, etc. When sufficient warmth was diffused over the body, I let three ounces of blood from the arm, inflated the lungs, and kept up an artificial respiration ; in the meantime, constantly applying friction to the whole surface, the head particularly, and not till about thirty-five minutes of unremitting application of the above means, could any symptom of returning animation be discovered. The arms and legs then became convulsed ; in fifteen minutes it spontaneously sighed ; the pulse at the wrist could be just felt, which encouraged me to persevere in my exertions. These symptoms of recovery, however, fluctuated for about two hours ; the result was doubtful, and four hours elapsed from the commencement of my attendance before I could say that the child would recover. It was then placed in a warmed bed, and stimulants applied every five minutes. The child continued insensible for six hours. I administered a dose of castor-oil in the evening, and continued giving stimulants for two days, during which time it remained in a very precarious state. Its recovery was gradual, and it is now tolerably well. From the mother’s statement, I suppose the child could not have been in the water less than seven or eight minutes : the vessel into which it fell was sunk in the ground, and contained about four large pails of water.

Henry Edward Harper.

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