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Suspension by the Cord – Resuscitation

Year 1797, W. Chamberlain, Medical Assistant

Read by Peter Dawson – Trustee, Royal Humane Society

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April 6, 1797

Sir,

It is with much satisfaction I now relate to you that I have on Monday last been the happy instrument of restoring to life and to her friends a young woman, who, through some temporary mental derangement, had hung herself at the house of her master, a respectable tradesman in St. John’s Square. — All circumstances concurring, tended to show that she must have hung a considerable length of time before any one came to her assistance.

When cut down by the apprentice, who was the first person that saw her, she was quite lifeless to appearance; on my arrival, I found her cold, motionless, and without pulse ; her face tumid, eyes much projected, with great dilation of the pupils, etc.

I ordered a warm bed to be prepared, and in the mean time having had her placed on a mattress before a large fire, I employed myself in cutting the lace and all other ligatures. I then had recourse to the customary expedients, so judiciously recommended by the Society, but which it is here unnecessary to detail; and particularly attended to the inflation of the lungs : — when carried up stairs and into a warm bed, I continued my efforts, but with so little success apparently, that I was on the point of performing the operation of bronchotomy, with a view of introducing a canula into the larynx for the more effectual inflation of the lungs, when a faint gasp showed the first sign of returning to life. — Half an hour’s perseverance longer, after this symptom, brought on recovery so far as to encourage me to to try if she could swallow, by a tea spoonful at a time, a volatile cordial medicine prepared for her.

Deglutition was first extremely difficult ; the medicine was coughed out violently. — Respiration then became easier. — In an hour and a half she was able to take some warm diluted wine; but continued in other respects in a state of insensibility during the whole day. — She is now perfectly recovered, and performs her domestic duties as usual.

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