JAMES YOUNG SIMPSON
in Bathgate, the youngest of seven sons to the local
baker, James Young Simpson showed academic promise from
an early age.
This prompted his father to send him to Edinburgh university
where he studied medicine. Despite the distress he felt
at patients suffering (which almost caused him to give
up in favour of a career in law), he graduated in 1832,
and his subsequent progress, meant that at just 28 years
old, he was appointed tot he chair of midwifery in Edinburgh.
The main preoccupation during his life's work was the relief
of pain and suffering, particularly in the areas of childbirth
He was excited by new trials with ether in America, but
abandoned the drug in favour of chloroform which was seen
to be more efficient and less hazardous.
After experimenting on himself and two colleagues, he was
satisfied of its safety and started using it at his practice
two weeks later.
Resistance to this sleep-inducing chemical, was strong;
the religious authorities thought it dangerous to religion,
morals and health.
The use of anasethesia gained acceptance only gradually,
finally gaining full respectability when Queen Victoria
took it during the birth of Prince Leopold in 1853.
He was showered with honours from all over Europe and America,
and was made a baronet in 1866 - the first practising Scottish
doctor to achieve such recognition.
As well as leading the field of anaesthesia, Simpson made
other important advances, particularly in the fields of
investigation, diagnosis and treatment in obstetrics and
Simpson's Maternity Hospital in Edinburgh is named after