Dr. Anthony Walsh MD MRCOG MRCPI
J Marion Sims
James Marion Sims was born in January in 1813 in Lancaster County South Carolina. His father John Sims was of English descent from colonists of Virginia and his mother was Scots-Irish.
He graduated from Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia in March 1835, and although he started medical practice as a physician he soon changed to the study of surgery. He gained a world-wide reputation for his successful repair of vesico-vaginal fistulae.
The first hospital in America dedicated to gynaecology was founded by Sims in New York City in 1853. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre now stands on the site where Sims’ institution was established. A statue commemorating Sims can be viewed in Manhattan's Central Park across from the New York Academy of Medicine near Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street.
Sims life was very difficult at times and he suffered both personal family loss with the death from cholera of his three year old son, and the political tyranny of the medical establishment of the time. He was forced to leave the hospital he founded because the board decided that fifteen observers was the limit that could attend his operations. There was room for thirty and Sims argued that an anaesthetised patient would not be aware of the number of students in attendance!
He travelled to Europe in 1861 and demonstrated his repair technique in all the major centres of medical learning at that time. In the Rotunda hospital in Dublin City, which he particularly loved, ‘he was dined and feted to satiety’.
It was said of Sims that he treated Empress and Slave with equal grace, dignity and skill. He died in 1883 leaving a surgical legacy that serves women into the 21st century.