Heroes of DIY Surgery: Dr. Evan Kane


“Dr. Kane “likes to do things himself.” That’s how Time Magazine put in their Jan 18, 1932 issue remarking on the “old country doctor’s” preference for performing self-surgery. By this time, it had almost become something of a hobby for Kane, whose 1932 hernia repair carried out while “smiling” and “joking” in front of  press and a photographers was at least his third exercise in surgical self-sufficency.

The first was the self-amputation of an infected finger in 1919.   The second a self-appendectomy in 1921, undertaken to confirm to Kane’s satisfaction, what he believed to be his contemporaries’ a too-liberal (and sometimes dangerous) use of general anesthetics, where a mere local  would do.

Kane’s out-of-the-box thinking did not end there.  He was also one of the first to employ music in a medical setting, bringing a phonograph into the operating theater to soothe patients before surgery, and to ameliorate pain in recovery.

Progressive or not, Kane was clearly not without his ego, and later in life took to “signing” his surgeries, leaving patients with an Indian ink tattoo, a K” in morse code (— · —).


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