Surgical patients routinely died from their operations because doctors felt that bad air – not bacteria – was responsible for their postoperative infections. This changed in the 19th century with a British physician named Joseph Lister (1827-1912), who dedicated his life to researching the causes of infections and their prevention.
Meet the quiet, learning doctor, often referred to as "the father of modern surgery" – and who has both a mountain and a popular mouthwash named after him.
. 1 Joseph Lister's father helped to get started in the modern microscope – and the future career of his son. 1
9659004] As a child, Lister's scientific curiosity was nurtured by his father, Joseph Jackson Lister, an English wine merchant and lay scientist who used early microscopes to pave the way for today's achromatic (not color-distorting) microscope – a feat that put him in the spotlight Royal Society, the oldest national scientific society in the world.
In addition to dissecting small creatures, articulating their skeletons and drawing the remains, the Youn ger Lister, who knew early on that he wanted to become a surgeon, spent much of his childhood using his father's microscopes To examine samples. He would rely on microscopes throughout his scientific career to study the effect of the muscles in the skin and the eye, blood clotting, and the response of the blood vessels in the early stages of an infection.
. 2 Joseph Lister was English, but spent most of his career in Scotland.
Lister was born in the village of Upton in Essex, England, and studied at University College in London. After graduating as a home surgeon at University College Hospital, where he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, the young physician moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, to work as an assistant to the renowned surgeon James Syme at the Royal Infirmary [PDF].
The move should be temporary, but Lister found both personal and personal success in Scotland (19459005): He married Symes's daughter Agnes and was eventually appointed Regius Professor of Surgery at the University of Glasgow
3. Joseph Lister thought about becoming a priest instead of a doctor.
Like many young professionals, Lister sometimes had doubts about his career path. The doctor received a devout Quaker education, and he thought of becoming a priest instead of a surgeon. Lister's father, however, encouraged him to stay in medicine and serve God by helping the sick. Lister would eventually leave the Quaker to marry Agnes Syme, who was a member of the Scottish Episcopal Church.
. 4 Joseph Lister struggled with depression.
During his schooldays Lister got a mild case of smallpox. He recovered, but the health anxiety, along with the death of his older brother, who succumbed to a brain tumor, brought him into deep depression. The student left school in London and traveled around the UK and Europe for about a year before returning to the university and continuing his medical studies with renewed strength.
. 5 Joseph Lister is the reason why we sterilize wounds.
When Lister was a surgeon, bloodstained bedding and lab coats were not washed, and surgical instruments were rarely cleaned. And although the Italian doctor Fracastoro from Verona in 1546 had theorized that small germs could cause infectious diseases, no one thought that they had anything to do with wound infections. Instead, many surgeons believed that miasms – or bad air – that emanate from the wound itself are responsible.
Lister, however, trusted his own observations. As a young doctor in training, he found that some wounds healed when they were cleaned and damaged tissue removed. The problem of infection plagued Lister over the course of his career again and again, until he came across the work of the French scientist Louis Pasteur, who discovered that microbes could trigger an infection.
Lister started with a formula of diluted carbolic acid – a coal -. Tar derivative for killing parasites found in sewage – for sterilizing medical instruments and washing hands. He also mixed this mixture on dressings and sprayed carbolic acid in operating theaters, where operations led to high mortality. He reported the findings at a meeting of the British Medical Association in 1867: "My infirmaries […] have completely changed their character, so that in the last nine months not a single case of [blood poisoning] hospital gangrene or erysipelas has occurred in them.
While some doctors resisted his techniques and claimed that they had wasted time and money, Lister's approach made itself felt. Soon followed doctors in Germany, the United States, France and Britain his example as Pasteur and Lister, the two scientists corresponded and finally met in 1878 for the first time personally. And on the occasion of Pasteur's 70th birthday in 1892, Lister made a laudatory speech about the life-saving benefits of Pasteur's research.
. 6 He was friendly to the patients.
Lister referred to some patients as "this poor man" or "that good woman" (he refused to call them "cases"), and he always tried to keep them calm and comfortable before and after surgery once even the surgeon sews up the missing leg of a doll for a young charge.
. 7 He treated Queen Victoria …
Lister's most famous patient was Queen Victoria: in 1871 the surgeon was called into the possession of the monarch in the Scottish Highlands after the queen produced an orange-sized abscess in her armpit. Armed with carbolic acid, Lister spat out the mass, emptied his pus and cleaned and treated the wound to prevent infection – but at some point he accidentally spilled his disinfectant into the face of the displeased queen.
Students, "Gentlemen, I'm the only man ever to put a knife in the queen!"
. 8 … who later made him a baron.
When Lister's fame grew, Queen Victoria made him a baron in 1883. Later, she raised the doctor to baron status. Lister remained popular among members of the royal family, including Edward VII, who was diagnosed with appendicitis two days before his royal coronation in 1902. His doctors consulted Lister before he performed a successful operation, and the king thanked him as soon as he was crowned. "I know if I and your work had not been, I would not be sitting here today," the monarch told Lister.
. 9 Listerine mouthwash is – surprise! – named after Joseph Lister.
Even if you did not meet Lister in science education, you probably used his name formula: Listerine. The popular brand of mouthwash, promoted under the slogan "Kill Germs That Cause Bad Breath", was invented in 1879 by the American physician Joseph Lawrence. Lawrence had developed the green liquid as an alcohol-based surgical antiseptic and named the product aptly after his pioneering predecessor. However, Listerine would ultimately be marketed for oral hygiene purposes after it was first marketed as a cigarette additive, as an antidote, as a dandruff treatment and so on.
10th Lister also has a mountain named after him.
Lister has dedicated public monuments and hospitals to him all over the world, but if you travel to Antarctica, you can also see a huge mountain named in his honor: At about 13,200 feet, Mount Lister is the tallest Point in the Royal Society Range, a mountain range in Victoria Land in the Antarctic, which was first explored by the British during the Discovery Expedition from 1901 to 1904. This expedition was organized by the Royal Society and the Royal Geographical Society. and since Lister was President of the Royal Society from 1895 to 1900, the most majestic peak of the mountains was named after him.
Further Source: The Butchery Art: Joseph Lister's Quest for the Cruel World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris