Genre: Non-Fiction / Medical / Texas History / Biography Publisher: Texas A&M University Press Date of Publication: September 12, 2018
Number of Pages: 352 pages. 78 b&w photos. Map. 4 Appendices. Index.
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In this first comprehensive biography of Dr. Arthur Edward Spohn, authors Jane Clements Monday, Frances Brannen Vick, and Charles W. Monday Jr., MD, illuminate the remarkable nineteenth-century story of a trailblazing physician who helped to modernize the practice of medicine in Texas.
Arthur Spohn was unusually innovative for the time and exceptionally dedicated to improving medical care. Among his many surgical innovations was the development of a specialized tourniquet for “bloodless operations” that was later adopted as a field instrument by militaries throughout the world. To this day, he holds the world record for the removal of the largest tumor—328 pounds—from a patient who fully recovered.
Recognizing the need for modern medical care in South Texas, Spohn, with the help of Alice King, raised funds to open the first hospital in Corpus Christi. Today, his name and institutional legacy live on in the region through the Christus Spohn Health System, the largest hospital system in South Texas. This biography of a medical pioneer recreates for readers the medical, regional, and family worlds in which Spohn moved, making it an important contribution not only to the history of South Texas but also to the history of modern medicine.
“The chapters in the book are mesmerizing…the photographs in the book are priceless and probably cannot be seen by the general public except in this book. This is much more than a biography of Dr. Spohn and his medical triumphs. It is a book about life in South Texas from 1865 to the 1920s and beyond. Dr. Arthur Edward Spohn was part of that history and his contributions to medicine and the development of South Texas have guaranteed his legacy for years to come. This book is the proof.”
— Dr. Manuel Flores, Texana Reads
“This is no dry medical text. Even if you have little interest in the medical field, you’ll be astonished at the life of this accomplished physician and surgeon.”
— Allison Ehrlich, Corpus Christi Caller Times
Excerpt from Dr. Arthur Spohn
by Jane Clements Monday and Francis Brannen Vick
From Appendix 1, a collection of medical journal articles
written by Dr. Spohn
“Multicystic Ovarian Tumor Weighing 328 Pounds” American Journal of Clinical Medicine 13 (April 1906), also read at a meeting of the State Medical Association of Texas, Houston, April 28, 1905, and printed in Transactions of the Texas State Medical Association (Austin), February 1906
This case is not important, except for the enormous size of the tumor. Mrs. G., age 43, the mother of seven children, had been suffering for several years with an ovarian tumor. During this time she had been tapped frequently. When called to see her, imagine my surprise on entering her room to find on the bed an immense mass as large as a barrel. I could not see the woman, but looking over the mass could just see her head attached to it like an appendix. The tumor came almost up to her chin, and extended to midway between her knees and feet. When she lay on her side on a three-quarter bed it had to be supported on two chairs. She could not reach her navel with her hands by one and one-half feet and was so emaciated that without her tumor companion would hardly make a shadow. She could only take nourishment by the spoonful, and seldom retained it. When they wished to move her they rolled the tumor, and she went with it. I had seen Professor Goodell, of Philadelphia, remove a very large tumor, the patient dying on the table. I removed one myself weighing 166 pounds, the patient dying in a few hours. I had little to expect from this case. In the other cases the tumors had not been reduced before operation, death being caused by collapse. I decided to reduce this tumor for one week, and with a small trocar succeeded in removing thirty gallons of a gelatinous fluid. On opening the abdomen I found many adhesions at points where she had been tapped. The tumor was of the left ovary, multicystic. I opened one cyst of large size, removing over six gallons. The thickened sac, removed with difficulty on account of adhesions, weighed 40 pounds, giving the tumor, as near as I could estimate[,] a total weight of 328 pounds. In closing the incision I had great difficulty getting the abdominal walls in satisfactory shape. There was so much serum and blood escaping that I was compelled to open a part of the incision and insert large pieces of gauze for drainage, treating the abdomen partly open. It took two months to close the abdomen. The patient made a good recovery. I was assisted by Drs. H. Spohn and H. J. Hamilton, of Laredo; anesthetic used, chloroform.
JANE CLEMENTS MONDAY is the author of numerous books and coauthor, with Frances Brannen Vick, of award-winning Petra’s Legacy: The South Texas Ranching Empire of Petra Vela and Mifflin Kenedy and Letters to Alice: Birth of the Kleberg-King Ranch Dynasty. She has served as chair of the Texas State University System Board of Regents and mayor of Huntsville, Texas. She resides in Huntsville.
FRANCES BRANNEN VICK is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including Petra’s Legacy and Letters to Alice. She founded E-Heart Press and cofounded the University of North Texas Press. Vick has served as president of the Texas Institute of Letters, the Texas State Historical Association, and the Philosophical Society of Texas. She resides in Dallas.