Mr. M’Kinley’s Doctor Reads His Report
Dr. Mann Says He Does Not Know What Caused Death.
Thinks It Was Atrophy of the Walls of the Right Ventricle of the
ROCHESTER, N. Y., Oct. 15.—It was
the privilege of the physicians of Rochester, or, rather, those
doctors who belong to the Academy of Medicine, to hear first the
official report of Dr. Matthew D. Mann of the Buffalo Medical College,
who performed the operation on President McKinley.
This report was read last Wednesday,
but only after Dr. Mann had insisted that no part of it be published.
The local physicians agreed to this, but to-day one of them consented
to give a synopsis of the report. Dr. Mann took up the history of
the case from the time he was called to attend Mr. McKinley on the
Pan-American grounds, until the patient died. The [most] significant
statement made by Dr. Mann was this:
“Gentlemen, I do not know what killed
the President, but I think that the cause of death was the fact
that the walls of the right ventricle of the heart were very thin
Dr. Mann laid particular stress upon
the fact that the right ventricle was afflicted with acute brown
atrophy, and he seemed to wish the physicians to infer that this
trouble was the real cause of death. He said that he had been sent
for immediately after Czolgosz had fired the fatal bullet, and that
he arrived at the Pan-American Emergency Hospital wholly ignorant
of what was expected of him.
Dr. Mann found that the Emergency
Hospital was not equipped with the necessary instruments for the
performance of a difficult operation. The lack of these aids to
efficient surgical work hampered Dr. Mann and his assistants considerably,
although he did not think that the case was prejudiced by the fact.
He said that all during Mr. McKinley’s illness his pulse was rapid,
but this symptom was not considered to be alarming, because Dr.
Rixey had stated that Mr. McKinley possessed a normal pulse of 80,
which became more rapid under the least excitement. He also emphasized
the fact that the President had never taken any exercise beyond
that obtained in walking.
The doctor said that on the morning
of the day before Mr. McKinley died the latter was very cheerful,
asking one of the doctors for a cigar. Dr. McBurney said to the
President: “No, Mr. President, you cannot have a cigar to-day.”
“Very well,” said Mr. McKinley. “There are some cigars down stairs
[sic], and you gentlemen may smoke, if I cannot.”
On the second day after the shooting
Dr. Mann said he found that two of the stitches in the President’s
abdomen had pulled out. Nothing was thought of this fact, because
the spreading of stitches is common in such wounds. Dr. Mann’s report
also touched upon the failure of the surgeons to use the X-ray in
their endeavor to locate the bullet.
He did not think that it would have
been wise to use the X-ray under the circumstances, holding that
it would have put the President to a great deal of inconvenience,
and that there was not one chance in twenty of the machine’s revealing
anything of importance. Dr. Mann said that if the bullet had lodged
against the spine, for instance, the X-ray would not have disclosed
it. The use of the machine would without doubt have killed the President
at the time, without disclosing anything of value to the surgeons.
Dr. Mann, in his report, gave the
President’s blood count day by day, and said that all during the
Chief Magistrate’s illness the physicians felt uneasy because of
the fact that the patient’s blood condition remained normal. Under
the circumstances, and if the patient was making favorable response
to treatment, there should have been a noticeable increase in the
white blood corpuscles. This was not the case, and the lack of such
an increase gave the doctors their first scare.
The autopsy revealed several important
facts that helped in a way to explain Mr. McKinley’s demise. In
searching for the bullet the surgeon’s knife revealed, back of the
stomach and in the region of the spleen, a small pocket containing
necrotic tissue, the origin of which remains a mystery to the physicians.
Even in the bacteriological examination following the autopsy no
evidence of septic poisoning was found, disproving the assertion
that surgery could have prevented death. None of the germs usually
responsible for death from blood-poisoning were found even in the
pocket containing the dead tissue.
Twice during the reading of his report
the doctor called attention to the fact that the President’s blood
count failed to show the desired increase in the white corpuscles,
which was absolutely essential to recovery in a body undergoing
a process of repair. He also laid particular stress upon the fact
that the wall of the right ventricle was atrophied, but he did not
state what, in his opinion, caused the atrophy.
He stated, however, that the failure
of the surgeons to find the bullet in the autopsy was due to the
fact that the relatives of the President positively forbade them
to go any further after they had only fairly begun their exploration.
He said that it was the physicians’ desire to find the bullet and
that had they not been molested the autopsy would have revealed
Dr. Mann considered the necrotic condition
of the kidney, which was lacerated by the bullet, and the atrophy
of the heart chiefly responsible for death. He did not think that
it lay within the power of any surgeon to save Mr. McKinley’s life
in view of the defects in his bodily organism mentioned above.