William Harvey Cushing: Biography, Achievements, Discovery, Personality. How did Harvey Cushing die?

Harvey William Cushing (Father of Modern Neurosurgery) 1869 -1939.

– Surgeon, Physician, Writer, Pathologist and Soldier.

– Known famously for the Cushing sign, syndrome, reflex, ulcer etc those are the least of his achievements.

– Youngest of 10 kids

William Harvey Cushing: Biography, Achievements, Discovery, Personality
William Harvey Cushing: Biography, Achievements, Discovery, Personality.

– His father, grandfather and great grandfather were all doctors. Had a doctor sibling too.

– Graduated from Yale University, proceeded to Harvard and subsequently to John Hopkins hospital.

– Trained under William Halsted ( Father of modern surgery) and was a mentee of William Osler (our father and General overseer of Internal Medicine)

– Got the best of both worlds,took a keen interest in internal medicine but with sharp surgical skills.

– Was the first person to repair the thoracic duct without leaking, which he did as a registrar.

-Did extensive research on typhoid and published several materials in pathology on the disease.

– He veered into neurosurgery and operating brain tumors from his interest and pioneered several techniques and instruments used till date.

– He started the first residency program in
neurosurgery and trained the first surgeons in USA. He started the early morning rounds famous with Neurosurgeons.

– The American society of neurosurgery was previously known as the Harvey Cushing Society and you needed his nod to get in when he was alive.

– He travelled to Europe due to links from sir Osler and on his way back from Italy, brought the first ever sphygmomanometer to the USA, promoted its use and subsequently became used worldwide.

– He stored most of his surgery specimens over a thousand in his lab, and it exist today as a trove of medical museum for learning

– He was a tireless surgeon, after losing his first son to RTA, he called his ever supportive wife and went on to operate same day, collecting the corpse after finishing his cases for the day.

– He was a Medic Soldier and fought gallantly in the first world war as a Lt Colonel, treating wounded soldiers, performing approximately 6 craniotomies per day. The US navy named a Ship after him.

– He treated the son of his mentor Edward Osler wounded in the war, he unfortunately died.

– He was a bibliophile and wrote over 100 publications, several textbooks and kept thousands of books, which he donated to his library.

– So good was his writing that he won a Pulitzer prize for writing the biography of his Mentor Sir William Osler. He also wrote an acclaimed bibliography on Andreas Vesalius.(Anatomy).

Cushing retired slowly towards his twilight, immersing himself in medical education to students, he suffered an episode of Guillain-Barre- Stroll syndrome and never fully recovered. He also had significant claudications from poor circulation partly a result of cigarette smoking.

He died at the age of 70, from myocardial infarction while lifting one of his Andreas Vesaalius textbooks.

– He was honoured as one of the great Americans that ever lived and had a US postage stamp made in his honour.

– What a legend, what a Man.


Ojay Femi


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