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Dr. JOHANN HUNCŽOVSKY – Dr. William E. Thomas

March 17th, 2006


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To appreciate what the practice of surgery has to offer to patients in our times, we should reach back into the second part of the 18th century. Into the time before asepsis, anaesthesia and antibiotics were discovered. Into times when hospitals used to be terrifying places where patients had to pay their burial fee on admission, refundable if they got out alive. When patients with syphilis were first given a sound thrashing and then let in. Surgeons relied on speed performing the most painful operations. They had to be insensitive to patients’ agonising cries, blood and all the bad air in poorly ventilated crowded wards. Barber surgeons were looked down upon by physicians. Surgery could not progress before overcoming problems with infection, pain, and poor hygiene. And yet there were physicians and surgeons who pushed medicine in the direction of our times. Johann Hunczovsky was one of them. Born into a family of lowly provincial barber surgeon, he became personal surgeon of the Emperor of Austria and the director of prestigious teaching institute for surgeons Josephinum in Vienna. He attracted attention of Brambilla, who with Emperor Joseph II united surgery with medicine. In Paris his patron was Antoine Louis, the inventor of the Guillotine. In England he studied with John Hunter, Pott, discussed medicine and science with Lind and Priestley. In Vienna Hunczovsky attended Beethoven and Mozart during their illnesses. Hunczovsky’s life story is as interesting and touching the soul of contemporary people, as the account of Mozart’s fate. They both met face to face in time and space. Hunczovsky and Mozart died prematurely from diseases which are treatable at present. They both have a message to tell us. They should never be forgotten.

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The Home of Real Adventure Tales