Condition Very Grave, Say Local Physicians
Dr. Cyrus Edson Says Peritonitis Is Almost Sure
to Follow Latest Symptoms.
Dr. Alber[t] T. Weston,
Coroner’s physi[c]ian, who has performed autopsies in [f]ive or
six hundred cases where death [r]esulted from gunshot wounds and
is an expert in the treatment of injuries of that character, said
to an Evening World reporter to-day, after he had been shown the
early bulletins from Buffalo regarding the President’s condition:
“Toxemia is a term used to cover a
wide range of complications. If it means septic infection or blood
poisoning, that is the end. If it is due merely to the inability
to digest solid food, it is only temporary and in all probability
the President will rally.
“Ordinarily a gunshot wound like that
received by the President would be fatal in ninety-nine cases out
of a hundred. The extraordinary conditions under which he was shot
were favorable to him. I mean, he was shot practically at the door
of a hospital, and the best of surgeons were at work on him within
a short time.
“At the end of six days the wound
itself ought to be thoroughly healed. There is no evidence in the
bulletins of secondary hemorrhage, or acute peritonitis. Bulletins
from a sick room, however, rarely describe all the conditions surrounding
“Talking with Drs. O’Hanlon and Williams
yesterday, we all agreed that the President’s condition was most
favorable, so far as the wound was concerned. If President McKinley
is dying now it is from secondary complications.”
Edson Fears the Worst.
“It is safe to say that the bullet
remaining in the President’s body has been disposed of. The present
trouble is possibly due to an escape of food into the abdominal
cavity from the wounds in the stomach, which were not fastened firmly
enough to withstand the muscular action of that organ. The escape
of such food would immediately cause the symptoms now said to be
“If my surmise is correct peritonitis
will certainly follow, assuming that the President recovers from
the heart failure and shock.
“The failure of the stomach to digest
food and thus dispose of it, which might be due to the patient’s
weakened condition, would cause fermentation which would distend
the stomach, make it press against the heart and thus cause the
distressing symptoms recorded in the bulletins this morning.
“Yesterday I believed the President’s
chances of recovery to be 95 out of 100. This morning I would reverse
“I cannot believe it is true that
Mr. McKinley has partaken of solid food. All this trouble might
have resulted from liquid food, and I do not believe that the physicians
would have risked administering solid food when so many predigested
foods acceptable to a weakened stomach can be had.”
Dr. Tuttle Has Hope.
Dr. Edward G. Tuttle, of No. 61 West
Fifty-first street [sic], an authority on gastro-enteric
diseases, said to-day:
“The condition of the President this
morning is not as favorable as we had hoped, but from the information
I have obtained I do not think there is any immediate danger.
“The administration of solid food
to the President is the cause for this, but the fact that his temperature
has not gone up gives us reason for hope that in the course of twenty-four
hours, if no great rise in temperature comes, his condition will
be most encouraging.”
The doctor was asked if there was
any more danger of peritonitis. He said:
“The chances of peritonitis are almost
In concluding the doctor said that
in his opinion there was no occasion for any serious alarm. He said
the President’s low temperature was a most encouraging sign.
Will Not Live Twenty-Four Hours.
Dr. Wilfred G. Fralick, of No. 791
Madison avenue [sic], who is one of three doctors who successfully
removed a patient’s stomach and a prominent surgeon in intestinal
“According to the latest reports the
President will not surviv[e] twenty-four hours unless a decided
[cha]nge for the better occurs.
“I have had little hope from the first.
His pulse has been disproportionately high since the operation,
which is always a most serious and unfavorable symptom in intestinal
and stomach wounds.
“In regard to the reports that the
President was given solid food, the probabilities are that he has
received no solids. If he did it was not the correct thing to do.
“I deemed the case serious from the
first, because the pulse has never gone below 120. There must have
been blood poisoning from the start, and the physicians were evidently
unable to prevent the infection, which has continued ever since.
It became a systemic and local affection which could not be entirely
eliminated by any antiseptic treatment.
“It is now a question of general,
or systemic, poisoning. Toxic organisms are evidently now attacking
the cardiac or respiratory nerve centres, th[?]gh which, if not
eliminated, death must surely result.
“The danger of an imbedded bullet
exposes the wound to infection and abscess in any course of its
track. The bullet in its course beyond the stomach, which could
not be followed, may have caused an infection which spread to the
Slight Chance of Recovery.
Dr. Carlos MacDonald, who was born
in the same town as President McKinley and is two years younger,
said to an Evening World reporter to-day that, basing his judgment
on the published information, he regarded the President’s chance
of recovery very slight. Dr. MacDonald, who is one of the most famous
physicians in New York, said:
“I have said all along that the President’s
chances of recovery were very small, because his temperature has
remained continuously above 100, his pulse 120 and his respiration
“It is difficult to believe that a
patient suffering from surgical fever, and with two bullet holes
in his stomach, would be permitted to digest solid food within a
week of the receipt of the injury. The process of stomach digestion
naturally gives rise to the generation of gases which would tend
to distend the stomach and put the tissues on the stretch, thereby
endangering the opening of the scarcely healed wounds. Should this
occur there would be an escape of some portion of the contents of
the stomach into the abdominal cavity, which in my opinion would
be sufficient to account for the symptoms described in the bulletins.
“Wh[il]e there is a possibility of
recovery, the chances are much against it.”
All Depends on the Heart.
Dr. Charles Ogilvy said:
“Everything now depends on the heart,
which is taxed to the utmost. It looks as if the stomach had been
overtaxed, and anything which would overtax any organ would reach
the heart. The President has been in a most critical condition from