These World War One Medical Innovations Will Baffle And Amaze You

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, which tore through Europe from 1914 to 1918 and took millions of lives with it. Though most people who would remember the event are gone, the Great War still reverberates through our lives even today. In fact, many life-saving medical innovations that we now take for granted were created during that period by field surgeons and nurses who needed to respond quickly to a number of potentially fatal ailments.

World War One Medical Innovations Field Hospital

A church converted for the entirety of the war as an American army field hospital. Source: Getty Images

Blood transfusions, which help prevent patients from dying of shock or blood loss, started to be used just before the war. It wasn’t until the the war began, though, that the technique was truly put to the test.

World War One Medical Innovations Blood Transfusion

A German blood transfusion kit circa early 20th century. Source: eBay

Sepsis, an all-too-common hospital malady back then, was beaten with the invention of antiseptics. And though it sounds obvious to us today, it was also during WWI that practicing good hygiene and cleanliness in hospitals became a prominent strategy for disease prevention. Penicillin wasn’t discovered until 1928, a decade after the armistice that ended the war in 1918. But even without antibiotics, WWI surgeons brought us out of medicine’s dark ages.

Continue Reading

The Altered Faces Of War

World War 1 Veteran Face Mask

Given its crushing trench nature and use of large-caliber artillery, World War One saw some of the most devastating wounds suffered by soldiers in the history of warfare. Before the days of sophisticated reconstructive and plastic surgery, physicians were tasked with covering the scars, gaping holes and gashes streaked across the faces of thousands of veterans. Convening art with science in pursuit of the greater good, surgeons and sculptors worked together to create masks to conceal these devastating, identity-consuming histories from the veteran and the public, allowing veterans to lead something of a normal life following their return home.

Each mask, which was custom-designed and made of either rubber or metal, bore the face of the affected man’s pre-war portrait. And while the remaining black and white photos don’t necessarily convey the masks’ sculpting or painting accuracy, veteran thank-you letters to the mask-makers provide all the proof you need. Said one, “Thanks to you, I will have a home…The woman I love no longer finds me repulsive, as she had a right to do.”

Read more about it at the Smithsonian.

One Woman Saved The Lives Of 100,000 Displaced Persons

Following the 1988 collapse of the Somalian government, Dr. Hawa Abdi took it upon herself to provide refuge for the increasing amounts of people seeking sanctuary from the devastating amount of fighting. Through the years, her one-person clinic transformed into a 400-bed hospital, and over 90,000 lives were saved.

Close Pop-in
Like All That Is Interesting

Get The Most Fascinating Content On The Web In Your Facebook & Twitter Feeds