Friday, August 12, 2011

Dr. John Julian Chisolm

Julian Chisolm’s family had come from Scotland to settle in South Carolina in 1717. The innovative Chisolm had a sophisticated medical background. He received his M.D. degree from the University of South Carolina in 1850 and continued his studies in Paris and London and visited military hospitals in Milan. Returning to Charleston in 1852, Chisolm demonstrated great skill as a surgeon and lecturer. He created and instituted new systems for expanding medical education and conducted a free hospital for slaves. In 1858 he received an appointment from his alma mater and was said to be the youngest professor of surgery in the United States.

Chisolm, remembered as energetic, enthusiastic, and a powerful teacher, received the Confederacy’s first commission issued to a medical officer, and attended to the wounded at Fort Sumter. He immediately began writing A Manual of Military Surgery, For the Use of Surgeons in the Confederate Army, and published it just four months after Fort Sumter.

Dr. Chisolm had extensive experience with chloroform as an anesthetic and was a strong advocate for its use. He lobbied to conserve the South’s supply of chloroform, which had traditionally been applied to a cloth and held to the patient’s nose. Chisolm developed a nasal inhaler, that both conserved the anesthesia and allowed the doctor to deliver a more controlled dosage. It would become known as the “Chisolm Inhaler”. He also designed a funnel vaporizer for administering chloroform.

After the war, during which he became one of the most famous Confederate surgeons, Chisolm was appointed Professor of Operative Surgery and Diseases of the Eye and Ear at the University of Maryland. He later founded the Presbyterian Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital of Baltimore.


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