History of Mass General

MGH Hotline 09.03.10 The first MGH patient, a 30-year-old male saddler suffering from the effects of tertiary syphilis, was admitted 189 years ago on Sept. 3, 1821.

Bicentennial Corner

03/Sep/2010

Early MGH: East Surgical Ward 16 was located in the Bulfinch Building in the late 19th century.

The first MGH patient, a 30-year-old male saddler suffering from the effects of tertiary syphilis, was admitted 189 years ago on Sept. 3, 1821. Saddlers were those who made, repaired or sold equipment for horses. It was originally believed that the first MGH patient was a sailor because of a misreading of handwriting in the medical records. MGH medical records note that the patient contracted the disease in New York City and also indicate that he died on May 7, 1822.

The first surgical patient was admitted to the hospital 17 days after the saddler, on Sept. 20, 1821. He was a native Irishman and had been suffering from hemorrhoids for 11 years; he was in constant, severe pain and had difficulty walking. The hemorrhoids were surgically removed. On Oct. 20, 1821, a month after he was admitted, he was considered cured and discharged.