Physician, inventor of intubation; b. at Cleveland, 1841; d. in New York, January 7, 1898. He was educated in the public schools of London, Ontario, and studied medicine in the office of Dr. Anderson. After two years of apprenticeship he entered the College of Physicians (New York) from which he was graduated in 1865. He won first place in the competitive examination for resident physicians of the Charity, now the City, Hospital of New York City on Blackwell's Island. Twice during his service he contracted cholera. After the completion of his service he took up private practice. Four years later (1872) he was appointed to the staff of the New York Foundling Asylum.
The deaths of many children by suffocation when diptheria brought about closure of the larynx proved too sad a sight for him, so he tried to find something to keep the larynx open. He used a wire spring and experimented with a small bivalve speculum but to no purpose. The inflamed mucous membrane and false membrane forced themselves into the interstices and the difficulty of breathing returned. Besides, the pressure produced ulceration. Finally he tried a tube. The use of a tube for intubation had often been attempted but unsuccessfully. O'Dwyer succeeded in devising the form of tube that would remain and then ingeniously fashioned instruments for the placing and displacing of the tube. After a dozen years of diligent study this method of relieving difficulty of breathing proved successful. Most of his medical colleagues were sure that O'Dwyer's scheme was visionary. Before his death it was universally acknowledged that he had made the most important practical discovery of his generation. His tubes and the accompanying instruments for intubation and extubation, with his methods for the care of these patients, have since come to be employed everywhere throughout the medical world. The tubes are also of great value in stenosis of the larynx due to various other diseases, such as syphilis, and to strictures of the larynx, especially consequent on burns or scalds.
Afterwards O'Dwyer devoted himself to the study of pneumonia, but late in December 1897 he developed symptoms of a brain lesion, probably of infectious origin, which proved fatal. He was a fervent Catholic. His work at the Foundling Hospital helped greatly to make that institution one of the best of its kind.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online