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Friday, 12 August 2011


Up to the late 19th century appendicitis was generally not treated operatively and carried a high mortality rate, but developments in anesthesia and antisepsis made life-saving surgery possible. Dr Graves of Ontario took out a patient’s appendix for the first time in 1885. He performed the operation on a 12-year-old boy on the family’s kitchen table.

England’s future King Edward VII was troubled by stomach ache in the run up to the coronation in June 1901. All the foreign kings and princes had arrived, but they had to wait whilst the king-was operated on at home. The coronation had to wait until August and his appendicitis operation made the removal of the appendix fashionable.

In the autumn of 1912, British actress and singer Adrienne Augarde embarked on an American vaudeville tour that began in California and eventually made its way east. She was featured in a one-act playlet entitled A Matter of Duty, written by Agnes Burton. While the show was playing at the Majestic Theater, in Chicago, Illinois, in March 1913, Augarde was stricken with an attack of appendicitis and died a short time later after a failed operation. She was 30 years old

Harry Houdini, died of peritonitis in a Detroit hospital on Oct. 31, 1926. Twelve days before, Houdini had been talking to a group of students after a lecture in Montreal and he commented on the strength of his stomach muscles and their ability to withstand hard blows. Suddenly, one of the students punched Houdini twice in the stomach.
The magician hadn't had time to prepare, and the blows ruptured his appendix. He fell ill on the train to Detroit, and, after performing one last time, was hospitalized. Doctors operated on him, but to no avail. The burst appendix poisoned his system.

The first Ryder Cup tournament took place in Worcester, Mass., in July 1927 with nine golfers per team. (The number rose to 10 in 1929 and 12 in 1969.) Appendicitis kept British professional golfer Abe Mitchell out of play, and the United States team won.

The human appendix does have a purpose. Scientists believe it protects healthy bacteria which aid in digestion.

After a Soviet doctor in Antarctica had to remove his own appendix, all Australian doctors must have theirs removed before allowed to stay there.

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