Karl E. Hammerschmidt. Humanist, natural scientist
and pioneer in anesthesia

List WF, Kernbauer A, Kenner T.
Klinik fur Anasthesiologie und Intensivmedizin,
LKH, Karl-Franzens-Universitat Graz.
Anaesthesist. 1998 Jan;47(1):65-70


Karl Eduard Hammerschmidt was born in Vienna in 1801. There are indications that after studying law he passed on to studies in medicine and surgery in Vienna, though it has to be said there is no trace of his attaining any qualification. After this he worked in various scientific sectors and in recognition of his achievements he was accepted as a member of the Kaiser Leopold Academy of Researchers in Natural Sciences in Bonn. From February 1847 to March 1848 he induced numerous general anaesthetics with ether, working with Dr. J. Weiger, a dentist in Vienna. On 11 July 1847 he published preliminary statistics based on 1560 dental operations performed under ether anaesthesia and also on numerous experiments performed on himself and investigations conducted with ether in animals and in healthy subjects. From the viewpoint of scientific research into and widening of the applications of ether anaesthesia, his most meritorious achievements include the early publication of a staging classification for ether anaesthesia, the introduction of an anaesthetic protocol for patients that also lent itself to data recording for statistical purposes and the early realization that the ability to hear is retained for a very long time during anaesthesia. In 1848 Hammerschmidt was obliged to flee to Istanbul by way of Hungary because of his involvement in the October Revolution. Once there, he continued to work as a doctor and later became Professor of Medicine at the University of Istanbul. He converted to Islam, taking the name of Abdullah Bey, and also became a colonel in the Turkish army. He was one of the founders of the Red Crescent, the humanitarian sister organization of the Red Cross, and the Turkish Post commemorated this with the issue of a stamp honouring him when the organization celebrated the centenary of its formation in 1968. In 1869 the Hapsburg dynasty also honoured him with orders and distinctions. He died in Istanbul in 1874 as a highly esteemed personage.
Nitrous oxide
Inhaled anaesthetics
Obstetric anaesthesia
Molecular mechanisms
Chloroform anaesthesia
A thalamocortical switch?
Anaesthesia and the spinal chord
History of anaesthesia apparatus
Consciousness, anaesthesia and anaesthetics
Anaesthesia: mutants in yeast, nematodes, fruit flies and mice

and further reading

Future Opioids
BLTC Research
Utopian Surgery?
The Good Drug Guide
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Reproductive Revolution
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World