In Utah we celebrate Pioneer Day on the 24th of July. It’s a time to remember those who came and settled in Southern Utah and carved out life in a hostile environment. Here’s a story of one woman who came to Utah’s Dixie in the late 1800s and needed medical help in a place without a hospital and mostly locally trained doctors.
This is from the book “I was called to Dixie,” by Andrew Karl Larson. He tells of this woman named Catherine Bastian Tegan who lived in Washington in 1896. She had a diseased kidney and a large tumor growing near it.
In St. George there was a doctor and surgeon named J T Affleck. He was called to her home, and he administered to her the best he could. He finally decided the kidney and tumor must be removed, but he had never done such a thing or even seen the operation performed. Due to the isolated location and her need, he decided to perform the procedure anyway.
He placed a white sheet on a table, had Mrs. Tegan lie on it, and with two other men assisting, began to perform the surgery as best he could. It doesn’t say whether there was much in the way of anesthesia, but in the end, he did remove a 4-pound tumor along with the kidney. Luckily it was not malignant, and she recovered soon after.
It says: “Mrs. Tegan lived another quarter century. Not only that, she bore two sons after the operation and raised them to maturity and enjoyed reasonably good health the remainder of her days.”
These early settlers knew how to get things done. Could you imagine this doctor deciding what to do? “Grab that table and get me something sharp.” They were remarkable.