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William Stewart Halsted
Birth: Sep. 23, 1852
New York
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA
Death: Sep. 7, 1922
Baltimore
Baltimore City
Maryland, USA

Medical Pioneer. Called "the father of modern surgery", he developed procedures still in use. Raised in New York in a family of wealth and position, he graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy of Andover, Massachusetts in 1869 and entered Yale where he was captain of the football team, but a mediocre student who never checked a book out of the library. He enrolled at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1874 where he compiled an excellent academic record, graduating with his M.D. in 1877. Dr. Halsted interned at New York Hospital where he introduced the "hospital chart" as a way to track patients' vital signs, then trained in Germany for two years under the legendery Dr. Theodor Billroth. Returning to New York, he spent the next years building his reputation as a surgeon and teacher. He performed one of the first successful gallbladder surgeries in America on his mother, as well as one of the first blood transfusions, in which he used his own blood to save his sister from post-partum hemorrhage. In 1882 he developed and publicized the Halsted radical mastectomy, still the definitive treatment for breast cancer. Dr. Halsted's life was changed for the worse in October of 1884 when he began experiments using cocaine as a local anesthetic; he became an addict and was only "cured" by switching to morphine, to which he remained addicted, taking three grains a day until his death. The formerly friendly and outgoing man became, and remained, morose and unpleasant. He moved to Baltimore in 1888 and in 1889 joined the then-new Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Halsted's problem was known and he was treated as an 'impaired provider' long before that term became part of the medical vocabulary. Drug use was legal until the passage of the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914, not that a high ranking physician would have had any difficulty getting whatever he wanted anyway, with cocaine even sold via the Sears Catalog, but the doctor's condition and actions were monitored, the goal being to keep him 'functional' if not 'clean'. Dr. William Osler was 'keeper of the secret' until he left for England in 1905; the identity of the person watching Dr. Halsted after 1905, if any, remains unknown. He became chief of surgery and a founder, along with Drs. Welch, Osler, and Kelly, in 1893, of the Medical School. At Johns Hopkins he pioneered modern antisepsis, introduced surgical gloves (to protect the hands of a pretty nurse), and invented the "Halsted II", which, though seldom still performed, remains the "gold standard" treatment for inguinal hernia, with complication rates essentially unchanged over the years. Dr. Halsted trained numerous surgeons in the first modern residency program; today, his procedures for breast cancer and inguinal hernia remain in use and numerous surgical instruments carry his name. An eccentric who sent his shirts to a laundry in Paris and who lived apart from his wife, albeit in the same large house, except for a month long annual joint vacation, he lived out his days in Baltimore and died of complications of surgery for choledocholithiasis, which had been performed by two of his former students. Some sources render his name "Halstead", but the above spelling is correct. (bio by: Bob Hufford) 
 
Family links: 
 Spouse:
  Caroline Hampton Halsted (1861 - 1922)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Green-Wood Cemetery
Brooklyn
Kings County (Brooklyn)
New York, USA
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Bob Hufford
Record added: Mar 05, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 34485206
William Stewart Halsted
Added by: Anthony S
 
William Stewart Halsted
Added by: Bob Collins
 
William Stewart Halsted
Added by: Bob Collins
 
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