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MGH Hotline 05.14.10 The first demonstrated use of ether during surgery in 1846 -- a significant event for the MGH and the field of anesthesia medicine -- now has special meaning for MGHers John and Patty Dello Russo, both of the Cutaneous Biology Research Center

Ether documentary wins state fair prize

14/May/2010

DOCUMENTING A MOMENT IN MGH HISTORY: From left, John Sr., Vassallo, John Jr., and Riley

The first demonstrated use of ether during surgery in 1846 -- a significant event for the MGH and the field of anesthesia medicine -- now has special meaning for MGHers John and Patty Dello Russo, both of the Cutaneous Biology Research Center. Their 14-year-old son John Jr. won first prize in the State History Fair for his documentary project on the historic innovation of anesthesia, "Anesthesia: Soothing the Pain."

An eighth-grade student of Rumney Marsh Academy in Revere, John Jr. selected his winning project's topic at the suggestion of his father, who is very familiar with the history of ether, having been an MGH employee for the past 20 years. To put together the documentary, John Jr. researched a number of sources and spoke with MGH anesthesiologist Susan Vassallo, MD, and Visitor Education Program Manager Shelley Riley. They provided him with information and a tour of the Ether Dome, where the historic procedure took place nearly 165 years ago.

"Ether was a great invention, especially since it happened right here in Boston at the MGH," says John Jr. "The Ether Dome was awesome. It was really cool to see where the operation happened and to see the stadium seating where spectators could watch." John Jr. and his parents are not the only members of the Dello Russo family to have a connection to the MGH. Yvonne Dello Russo, the grandmother of John Jr., has been a volunteer at the MGH Blood Donor Center for 15 years.

John Jr. will present his project at the National History Fair in Washington, D.C., June 13 through 17. 

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