The First Surgery: "We Were Green and We Knew It"
On Sept. 30, 1889, Dr. Charles H. Mayo performed what may have been the first surgical procedure at the newly constructed Saint Marys Hospital. He was assisted by his brother and father, who administered the anesthetic agent. The operation was to remove a cancerous growth.
Between 1889 (the opening of Saint Marys Hospital) and 1905, the Mayo brothers were personally responsible for all operations done at Saint Marys Hospital. Now in his senior years, their father acted as consulting physician and surgeon. His two sons were the attending staff and performed all of the operations. Their surgical talents attracted numerous patients seeking treatment and a steady stream of visiting physicians eager to learn from the two brothers.
From their first surgery at Saint Marys, the Mayo brothers practiced a new form of antiseptic surgery developed by Joseph Lister. Listerism, as the surgery was known, was one of the great discoveries of modern medicine.
Reminiscing about those days, Dr. Will commented, "We were a green crew and we knew it."