Source: Topeka State Journal
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Wounds Described”
Author(s): Lee, Edward Wallace
City of publication: Topeka, Kansas
Date of publication: 9 September 1901
Volume number: 28
Issue number: 214
Pagination: 1, 3
|Lee, Edward Wallace. “Wounds Described.” Topeka State Journal 9 Sept. 1901 v28n214: pp. 1, 3.|
|Edward Wallace Lee; McKinley physicians; McKinley assassination (persons present on exposition grounds); William McKinley (medical care); William McKinley (medical condition); William McKinley (surgery); Pan-American Exposition (emergency hospital); William McKinley (medical care: personal response); William McKinley (medical care: compared with other cases).|
|Edward Wallace Lee; Edward C. Mann; Matthew D. Mann; William McKinley; John G. Milburn; Herman Mynter; Roswell Park; Presley M. Rixey; Eugene Wasdin.|
The article, on page 1, is accompanied with an uncredited illustration captioned “Diagram Showing Where the Assassin’s Bullets Struck President McKinley.”
At the head of the article, on page 3, the article’s title is given as “Danger Nearly Over.”
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 immense crowd.
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 done.
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 the skin.
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 condition.
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 the operation.
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.