Dr. Edward Lee Who Assisted with Operation Tells
of Bullet’s Course.
New York, Sept. 9.—The following
was written by Dr. Edward Lee of St. Louis: I arrived in Buffalo
Friday morning. While passing the various shows a gentleman who
knew I was a doctor hurried up and told me that the president had
been shot and that I was wanted immediately at the Emergency hospital.
I saw from my informant’s face that it was not a joke, and ran as
rapidly as possible to the hospital, which was surrounded by an
The attaches recognized me and courteously
ushered me into the operating room, where there were already several
physicians, in addition to the regular hospital staff. The president’s
 clothes had already been removed
and he was lying on the operating table. Some temporary relief had
been administered, and he was under the charge of Doctor Mann, who
conducts the Emergency hospi[t]al, and who is the son of the well
known surgeon of that name.
I then spoke to the president and
told him that I had met him at the Omaha exposition, where I had
charge of the Emergency hospital. Mr. McKinley was good enough to
say that he remembered me.
At this juncture Doctor Mynter and
Doctor Mann, Sr., arrived. An examination was at once held and from
the president’s condition it was clearly indicated that an operation
was imperative at once.
We told Mr. McKinley what was necessary
and he replied:
“Gentlemen, do what in your judgment
you think best.”
The president was just as calm and
quiet as possible. He was not the least bit nervous.
Of course he was suffering some pain
and was slightly nauseatedfi [sic] but, taking everything
into consideration, he was absolutely calm. But it was a terrible
thing to see [t]he poor man lying there.
We then went to work to get ready
for a radical operation. The second bullet had entered five inches
below the left nipple and one and a half inches to the left of the
median line. It had passed through all the tissues and had penetrated
the stomach in two places, front and back.
The stomach was quite full, the president
having eaten a hearty lunch, as he had previously told me. Of course,
there was more or less hemorrhage, and some of the contents of the
stomach were also escaping. It was absolutely necessary to prevent
any further leakage into the abdominal cavity and this was at once
The bullet must either [h]ave lodged
in the muscles of the back somewhere, or, having spent its force,
have dropped into the abdominal cavity. It had probably done all
the damage it could do.
Dr. Mann, Dr. Mynter and myself thoroughly
cleaned the abdominal cavity, and, turning the patient on one side,
examined carefully to see if the missing bullet had lodged beneath
We were, however, unable to find any
trace of it.
Before the operation had been entirely
finished, Dr. Park, who had been sent for, arrive[d], and a consultation
was held as to what further procedure to adopt. It was finally decided
to remove the president to the home of Mr. Milburn.
It was considered better to do this
because the hospital, while in first-class condition for emergency
cases, was not suitable or ready for a permanent case.
Mr. McKinley stood the operation remarkably
well, although it is a delicate matter to sew up the stomach, and
we were at work about an hour and a half. He came out of it in excellent
Cases of this kind are always critical
and every surgeon present recognized the seriousness of the president’s
condition. The patient showed wonderful fortitude throughout, and
any man, except an anarchist, would have been stricken to the heart
to see that great, good and grand man lying there as white as a
sheet, and yet with that dignity and calmness which is characteristic
of President McKinley.
No drainage tubes were used, as the
cavity made them unnecessary. The incisions in the stomach were
sewed up with silk sutures, and those in the abdominal wall with
silk-worm gut sutures.
The tragedy shows the great need of
an emergency hospital at expositions like the Pan-American, and
its location on the grounds enabled the president to obtain almost
immediate relief. If the patient had had to be taken to a down-town
hospital the contents of the stomach would have filtered into the
abdominal cavity to a much greater extent, and the result would
have been very much more serious.
The emergency hospital automobile
ambulance is the most perfect one I have ever seen, and the asphalt
pavements made it absolutely smooth going. When the ambulance reached
the hospital from the Temple of Music, the president was rolled
out on the most approved stretchers, and the president felt no shock
or jar at all. It was the same when the patient was transferred
to Mr. Milburn’s house.
I was much interested in the treatment
of emergency cases at the world’s fair, and I had the best of materials
at Omaha, where we treated some serious cases, but, of course, improvements
are constantly being made, and the emergency hospital at the Pan-American
is much beyond either of the two former.
There is one thing worthy of comment
regarding American doctors and nurses. There was not the least bit
of excitement or any disturbance of any kind. Everything was system
and method. There was no embarrassment and no confusion. Everything
went right on as if it had all been planned out beforehand.
Doctor Mynter and Doctor Mann, both
representative men of Buffalo, came in and recognized that the president
of the United States was there and that they had to assume responsibility.
They did not know when Doctor Park would arrive, and they had to
act themselves. I was asked to assist, and consented. The whole
thing was as quiet as it could be. Doctor Rixey, the president’s
physician, was there, giving general directions and furnishing assistance,
and the whole scene was one of quietude, dignity and solemnity.
If I remember rightly, Doctor Eugene
Wasdin administered the ether to the president at the outset of
the operation. The patient absorbed the fumes without the slightest
difficulty and remained completely under their influence during
There could not be a greater difference
than that between this scene and several I saw at Paris. Here the
patient was president of the United States, perhaps the greatest
man in the world, and yet all was method and system. In Paris, however,
when people were injured the confusion beggared description. Everything
demonstrated the lack of method and the excitability of the French
race. Neither the guards nor the spectators seemed to know the principles
of first aid to the injured, and there was great confusion before
anything like order was restored. At Buffalo, on the contrary, there
was absolute level-headedness.