Hunter who Hunted for Unusual Specimens – John Hunter
Scientist John Hunter (1728 to 1793) Scottish surgeon, anatomist, physiologist and pathologist was born near Glasgow in 1728.
In John Hunter boyhood he used to study Nature, animals and birds — the fore-runner indication of the would-be anatomist; coming events cast their signals.
John Hunter said all the body fluids possessed ‘ vitality ‘ and the blood was ‘alive’. He was a co-physician along with his brother William Hunter; both were practicing in London, much to the acclaim of the public.
Scientist John Hunter found pleasure and thrill in contacting the “resurrection-men” or grave robbers to bargain the supply of cadavers to his brother’s dissecting room.
Scientist John Hunter used to collect lizards, feed them with earthworms and follow their digestion.
Later he worked as resident house-surgeon under Percival Pott whose name is associated with ‘Pott’s Disease’, TB of the vertebrae and ‘Pott’s fracture’, a break at the lower extremity of the bones of the leg, an injury with which Pott himself suffered from.
Scientist John Hunter established practice in London. He built a structure designed for housing animals with stables, cages and caves and rooms for preserving mounted specimens. He obtained the carcasses of three whales.
Hunter contributed to comparative anatomy by starting with the dissection of lower animals and extending the study to higher animals. He became very famous as a busy practitioner in London.
Scientist John Hunter rose to the position of Surgeon-General of the Army and visiting surgeon to St. George’s Hospital. Edward Jenner, the discoverer of vaccination was his student.
Scientist John Hunter work in the day would start at five or six-o-clock, used to last till late in midnight; he used to burn the midnight oil. He was sleeping five hours at night. His was a life of busy and crowded schedule.
In 1776 Scientist Hunter was named Physician Extraordinary to King George III.
Scientist Hunter’s contribution to surgery was his method of operation for aneurysm (a dilatation of an artery due to weakening of its walls).
In 1767 he developed syphilis following self-inoculation with gonorrheal pus from a patient, proving the venereal nature of the two diseases, gonorrhea and syphilis – a sacrifice of his health and life!
Scientist John Hunter began getting attacks of angina pectoris as an after-effect of his mental tension, stress and anxiety. Attacks of angina were noticed even at rest. He said, “my life is in the hands of any rascal who chooses to annoy and tease me.”
While delivering a lecture at St. George’s Hospital, he succumbed to an attack of angina.
Upon his death he bequeathed to his family a museum of over 13,000 specimens including dissections of human anatomy, stuffed birds, animals, fossils, etc.