Dr. Vidula Kapre

Sr. Consultant Anaesthesiologist
Neeti Clinics, Nagpur

14th August 2017 is forever etched on my mind as a very important day in my life. We were at Boston for “World Congress on Thyroid Cancers”. My husband Dr Madan Kapre was leading the Indian delegation for “India Session” which was introduced in the World Congress for the first time.

I was part of that delegation. My role was to make a presentation on “Awake Thyroidectomy”. In that presentation I also showed a video of Cervical Epidural Anesthesia and Thyroid Surgery being performed with the patient awake. It was a novel technique for the surgeons. They were astounded to see something like this. I felt proud that anaesthesia got it’s due recognition in a gathering of thyroid surgeons from all across the globe.

This led me to the second important event of that day – visit to the place where anaesthesia actually made it’s entry into the world, the “Ether Dome”, situated in Bulfinch building at Massachusetts General Hospital. I was very excited to see the “birth place” of modern anaesthesia, something we had so far only read in books. Wanting to capture all the memories of this visit I took a picture of myself at the entrance of the imposing building of Massachusetts General Hospital. 

Obviously, I was a bit intimidated by the ambience, but the way we were received, immediately put me at ease. I simply went up to the lady at the reception counter and said “I am an anesthesiologist from India and I want to visit the Ether Dome”. Her immediate reply was “Sure, let me find someone who can escort you.” Promptly a gentleman from administrative staff appeared, key was handed over to him and we were asked to follow.

All this was a pleasant surprise to me –

No questions asked about our authenticity

No ifs and buts or excuses made

No delay in helping us, after all we were an insignificant part in that entire system

Happy with the fortunate developments, we readily followed the gentleman. 

Ether dome is housed on 7th floor at the end of a long corridor. As soon as the doors opened and we entered, I was spellbound. The feeling was surreal, we were actually, physically at the place where history was created 150yrs back.

It was a coincidence that my husband and daughter, both Head and Neck Surgeons were accompanying me as I told them about this quote by Dr Allan C D Brown “It is of interest that the first patient to officially submit to this new Yankee dodge was a young man of 19yrs Gilbert Abott, who had a tumour removed from under his jaw. On the strength of this somewhat doubtful justification, our ENT colleagues have claimed to have been there at the beginning of anaesthesia.” So they too got equally interested in this experience.

Our eyes first went to the dome shaped ceiling which gives the place its name. There are lights all around the dome. Architecture resembles that of a theatre. Surgeries were performed here from 1821-1867 at the centre and audience would witness the surgeries from the theatrical seating. On the wall at one end are pictures of Dr WTG Morton and of the historic surgery being conducted. The entire place was kept so well as if recently renovated, yet maintaining its originality and sanctity.

I wanted to preserve the memories so I took pictures of myself at every spot. 

I hope I have managed to take you all back in time, the way I felt that day, remembering how the scene must have been on 16th October 1846 with the words of Dr Warren ringing in my ears “Gentlemen! This is no humbug.”