Leeds nostalgia: No sticking point for 1943 surgeon

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We might think medical milestones are a phenomenon of fairly recent times but more than 70 years ago in Leeds, one such operation took place which broke new boundaries,

On this day in 1943, a pioneering operation took place at Leeds General Infirmary after an open safety pin was successfully removed from the right lung of a mill worker.

The woman in question had accidentally swallowed the safety pin while at work. One story had it she put the metal pin between her lips while she made adjustments to something and someone nearby cracked a joke, which caused her to laugh heartily and when she inhaled, she swallowed the pin. Another story ran that a colleague japed her and she inhaled quickly.

Whatever the reason, the pin ended up being transported down her windpipe all the way to the bottom of her lung and it being in the open position, she went straight to hospital.

According to a report in the Yorkshire Evening Post, the operation was carried out on Mrs Hilda Turton, 32, a weaver of West Mount, Manchester Road, Linthwaite, Huddersfield.

The reporter wrote: “The pin had lodged in such a position that it could not be detected by any method other than X-ray examination, I was told to-day (sic) by the eminent Leeds surgeon at the infirmary who performed the operation and by Mrs Clayton Fryers, house governor and secretary.

“As there is no apparatus that could have been used in a particularly delicate case of this kind - and to make such apparatus would have taken two months and cost £2,000 to £3,000 - the surgeon improvised.”

The article sadly did not elaborate on the ‘improvised’ equipment used by the surgeon to complete his operation.

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