Great War pioneers in anaesthesia and pain relief honoured in new exhibition

The Anaesthesia Heritage Centre based at the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland (AAGBI) in central London, will formally open the next in the series of exhibitions demonstrating the development of anaesthesia during World War One on Tuesday, 3 November 2015.

A Silver Lining Through the Dark Clouds Shining: The Riddle of Shock’ is the second in the series of four exhibitions, each lasting a year. The exhibition was launched to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War last year. It explores the development of anaesthesia and pain relief, and how the status of anaesthesia changed during this time.

The First World War saw unprecedented numbers of casualties arriving at hospital close to death from shock. Though its symptoms were well-recognised, the process was poorly understood and treatments ineffective. This free exhibition explores how treatments were developed during the War, and how doctors tried to solve the riddle.

The exhibition is complemented by interviews with doctors discussing their experiences in subsequent conflicts, covering topics from the development of the Triservice apparatus to anaesthesia in Afghanistan.

AAGBI President Dr Andrew Hartle, who will open the exhibition said: “It is an unfortunate irony that wars are often a catalyst to major advances in medicine. The First World War was no exception and proved integral to influencing the development of modern anaesthesia. This exhibition will give you an insight into these significant advances. You will leave with a greater respect for the work of doctors who treated wounded people during wartime.

The exhibition is open to the public Monday to Friday between 10am - 4pm (last admission 3.30pm) at 21 Portland Place, London W1B 1PY.

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