air date: 12/11/12 8:00 PM
This is the true story of the most important surgeon America has ever produced. Surgery in the mid-19th Century consisted of crude and hurried amputations conducted in filthy operating rooms, often followed by horrendous infection. We can thank William Stewart Halsted, the pioneering father of American surgery, for bringing America into the era of safe surgery: sterile procedures, surgical gloves, careful handling of tissues, and local anesthesia. It was Halsted who introduced a scientific approach to medicine, but one set of experiments nearly ended his life and career. One set of experiments cost Halsted his reputation, his friendships, and his piece of mind. Halsted tried the new wonder drug cocaine as a local anesthetic and became addicted for life. This is the remarkable true story of the medical giant who brought America into the age of modern medicine while struggling with a secret addiction.
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