Feijoo on artificial respiration

I don’t know when cardiopulmonary resuscitation was first performed, but here’s a 1753 citation by Benito Jerónimo Feijoo (Cartas eruditas y curiosas) from the London news para in the Madrid Gazette of 1753/4/17 of something that was apparently new to Spain:

It was believed that a man who had suffocated on the fumes produced by coal burning in a mine was genuinely dead. His eyes were fixed, his mouth was open, his whole body cold, and no movement at all was felt in his heart or arteries. A surgeon called William Tasaek, believing himself capable of restoring life by a method that appears extraordinary, applied his mouth with force to that of the man; and, blocking at the same time his nostrils, he breathed with such force that he inflated his chest and, continuing this exercise, six or seven strong beats were felt in his heart. His chest recovered its elasticity and in a short while his pulse could be felt. On seeing this, he opened a vein of the supposed corpse, whose blood came out drop by drop, flowing freely a quarter of an hour later. Then the surgeon rubbed his body, and an hour later the patient recovered consciousness and went home a completely well man.

I wonder who Tasaek was, and where the story originated, for it is at least in part a reflection of still-popular resuscitation myth.

Feijoo is, too, a strange name and seems to come from around Orense, Galicia (the man himself says that genealogy interests him so little that he has not dedicated a quarter of an hour of his life to investing his origins). His letters are a verbose Wunderblog of speculation and opinion and were translated into various other languages, not always to his satisfaction. He is in favour of admitting neologisms and of baptising each of a pair of conjoined twins, but his struggle against superstition is balanced by his insistence that scientific discovery be limited by religious orthodoxy. He does, nonetheless, recount the story of the Spanish ambassador to the Court of St James, who had a deputation from the Royal Society thrown out of his house as madmen when, rather than announcing that they wished to purchase some fine Canarian wines, they told him they wanted to measure the weight of air on the peak of Tenerife, then believed to be the highest in the world.

Lo que aquí he escrito sobre la posibilidad de restablecer los sofocados, aun pasado algún considerable tiempo, se confirma poderosamente con una noticia, que la Gaceta de Madrid del día 17 de Abril del presente año de 1753 nos dio en el párrafo de Londres, la cual es como se sigue: «Un hombre sofocado de las exhalaciones, que arrojaba el carbón de tierra, que encendió en una mina, se creyó muerto realmente: los ojos tenía fijos, la boca abierta, todo el cuerpo frío, y no se le sentía movimiento alguno en el corazón, ni en las arterias. Un Cirujano, llamado Guillelmo Tasaek, imaginando podía volver a la vida por un medio que parece extraordinario, aplicó fuertemente su boca a la de este hombre; y tapándole al mismo tiempo las narices, le sopló con tanta fuerza, que le infló el pecho, continuando este ejercicio, sintió seis, o siete fuertes latidos en el corazón. El pecho recobró su elasticidad, y en breve tiempo se manifestó sensible el pulso. Visto esto, abrió la vena al pretendido difunto cuya sangre salió luego gota a gota, y un cuarto de hora después corrió libremente. Entonces el Cirujano le frotó el cuerpo, y el enfermo recobró una hora después el conocimiento, y se retiró a su casa enteramente bueno».

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