Thursday, July 08, 2010

This might sting a bit

The serious looking fellow above is one Dominique Jean Larrey, born this day 1766 in Beaudean, France. Orphaned at the age of 13, he was raised by his uncle who was a surgeon in Toulouse. He was sent to Paris to study to be a doctor, but they were cut short by war, from now on his training was to be the on the job variety. He must have had some talent, because he was Napoleon's chief surgeon from 1797 to 1815. He would be responsible for many innovations in battlefield surgery, including the flying ambulances that provided for quick transportation of wounded soldiers back to the field hospital thus saving many lives. He also created what would be considered the precursor to the modern "MASH" unit that treated wounded based on the severity of their wounds. He also decreed that treatment of wounded was not to based upon nationality, treating enemy wounded as he would treat allied wounded. Napoleon made the statement that "If the army ever erects a monument to express its gratitude, it should do so in honor of Larrey." Pretty high praise coming from Napoleon, he was equally respected by his opponents, at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, the Duke of Wellington gave instructions to his men to not fire in Larrey's direction in order to 'give the brave man time to gather up the wounded."
When he was captured by the Prussians, he was condemned to death, but German surgeons plead for his life pointing out that he had saved the life of the son of Field Marshal Blucher, the Prussian commander at Waterloo, he was pardoned, sent back to France, and spent the remainder of his life writing, and practicing civilian medicine. So, for all those innovations that saved all of those lives both allied and enemy, Dominique Jean Larrey (July 8th, 1766-July 25th, 1842, at the age of 76), you are my (318th) hero of the day.

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