My name is Ashwara Pillai and I am currently reading Get Me Out by Randi Epstein. This book discusses the history and the importance of pregnancy.
There are many concepts that the author includes in this book, but I’m here to discuss the question:
How did Dr. James Marison Sims contribute to the history of pregnancy?
James Sims was born on January 25th 1813 in Hanging Rock Creek. Ever since he was a child, he disliked school and would skip class multiple times. But after many years and fighting with his father about what he wanted to pursue, he decided to be a doctor. Sims went to Jefferson medical college in Philadelphia, and one certian lecture had set the future for him. This lecture was not interesting to him, instead he found it repulsive. The professor was teaching his students how to repair a twisted uterus. But nevertheless, Sims would use this technique and create his world-famous technique to fix vaginal fistulas.
Sims medical career started badly. His first two patients had died but after a few months his a few patients survived with Sims help and had motivated him. After this, him and his wife moved to Montgomery. Moving to Montgomery was were his accomplishments really shined. He treated a women with a cleft lip and also red a newborn with a lockjaw. He had also claimed to fix a facial tumor. Sims also realized that he like to cut, and this gave him an idea of becoming a doctor that would surgically remove ovaries and slitting the cervix.
But one patient had changed the path for his career to a woman doctor. Mrs. Merrill had fallen of her horse and was complaining about stabbing pains in her rectum and bladder. But for Sims, this was something he disliked the most. He said,
“If there was anything I hated, it was investigating the organs of the female pelvis”
Following the lecture his professor told him years ago, he instructed Mrs.Merril to get on her elbows and knows. He put a sheet over her to protect her modesty, He put his fingers in her vagina and wiggled his fingers. This air into the vagina forced the womb to go back into place which also give Mrs. Merril relief.
Because of this success, he had an idea for a experiment. Sims started collecting slaves all over the country ands sure that he would have found the greatest discovery of all time. Many plantation owners were eager to help Sim because they wanted fertile slaves. Fertile women were bought in higher prices on auction block. Sims wasn’t the first person to do the vaginal-tear experiments on slaves, but he was the first one to do it successfully.
When it came to the experiment, anyone could pay for a standing-room-only spots to watch doctors do odd things to naked and poor women. Some medical students would request to help holding the legs apart for a better view. The first women was a teenage black slave names Betsey. She was “willingly consented” to climb on a table on all fours naked, but she was not given a blanket for over unlike Mrs.Merril. Medical students would open the lips of her vagina while Sims used his newest invention, the speculum. Sims was very happy with the result and said..
“The walls of the vagina could be seen closing in every direction; the neck of the uterus was distinct and well-defined, and even the secretions from the neck could be seen as a tear glistening from the eye, clear even and distinct as plain as could be”
From 1845-1849 he operated on Betsey, Anarcha, and Lucy, plus seven other girls and had sewed Anarcha upward of 3o times. Sims only used African-Americans because he thought they had a higher pain tolerance compared with regular Caucasians.
Sims died at age 70 in 1883 from pneumonia. His death was honored by memorial services and obituaries in medical journals. Dr. James Sims contributed to biomedical science by successfully treating the first vesicovaginal fistula using slaves for almost five years and created one of the most useful improvements in history.
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